Monday, January 2, 2017

‘Compassion and commitment at the Prince Hall research lodge’

The brethren in lodge assembled Thursday night.

I had a great time Thursday night at New Jersey’s “other” research lodge. The MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New Jersey has Lodge of Research & Education 2006 at labor (I guess they look at my research lodge as the “other” research lodge). It is a traveling lodge, bringing Masonic Light to the many Craft lodges in the jurisdiction, and this time the brethren gathered at Tyre Lodge 29, which meets at the Grand East in Newark.

The meeting was a pretty big deal, with both Bro. Tisan Rasool Dawud, the Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master; and Bro. James G. Allen, the RW Grand Secretary in attendance. While I didn’t know a soul in the room, it was obvious there were many other eminent brethren present, particularly at the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s stations.

RW Dawud was the keynote speaker for the evening, presenting not a research paper, but an inspirational message that exhorted the brethren to embrace a “commitment to finish.” But W. Bro. Ronald F. Sapp, Jr., the Worshipful Master for this two-year term, spoke first, discussing the need for Freemasons to remember to be patient and understanding with their brethren when disappointment strikes. The two talks, their messages paired unintentionally I’m pretty sure, posed to the lodge a duality as necessary as those embodied by, say, the two pillars, or the checkered pavement, or even the Square and Compasses themselves.

W. Sapp’s short talk reminded us all of the times in life when we “worked second shift, or had a part time job,” or had military service, or family obligations, or something else that prevented us from attending Masonic meetings and functions, and to make sure we “give a little grace” when judging the struggles of our brethren who today are hamstrung by short cabletows.

Delivering the main address of the meeting, RW Dawud emphasized the need for Masons to have a “commitment to finish,” meaning a plan and drive to satisfy the obligations and goals we claim in life. Without that, he said, “you just have promises and hopes” because just being “interested in finishing” is not the same as being committed to finishing. The secret, he added, is to have the right mindset—a positive attitude that takes ownership of what one has committed to finish; to set realistic goals with daily and weekly targets; to focus on what is important in life, and not be distracted by superfluities; and to hold oneself accountable, thus remaining motivated. He concluded with a quotation from, of all people, racing legend Mario Andretti: “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

These two Masons’ points of view could seem incompatible at first, but when one considers that the Worshipful Master would have us looking with compassion at others, while the Deputy Grand Master wants us to be committed to ourselves, then it becomes clear how the two perspectives complement one another in a very Masonic way. Think Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

It was announced LORE 2006’s next meeting will be held Thursday, March 30 at a location to be announced (although the website says Camden, so we’ll see).

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