Monday, December 8, 2008

That Brotherhood Stuff

A few of us Ruffians, myself included, spent much of our weekend at the Shrine Fall Ceremonial for Abou Ben Adhem Temple in Springfield, Missouri.

We had a great time.

If you're imagining a lot of guys sharing stories and jokes, drinking, and carrying on like theres some kind of party going on...then you're not far off! We Ruffians did a lot of all of that. But there were also new Candidates to prepare. There was instruction to attend to. And there was a lot of work going on in the background.

True to form, I made my way up and down the stairs...in and out of the rooms and slipped here and there fraternizing among the brothers. I like to get to know people. And I like to involve myself in whatever I can to keep myself busy.

During the two days I spent mixing it up with my fellow Nobles, I came to be impressed with something I found. There are a lot of good men in there!

I remember going through the rites of passage of the Shrine myself. It was quite a bit different from the Blue Lodge to be sure. But I understand and happen to agree with all of the many rites I have passed through in Masonry. A man must prove himself along the way as a Mason...to his Brothers...and, most importantly, to himself.

When I went through my Shrine initiations, I wasnt sure what to make of all of these guys giving me a hard time and testing my mettle. Frankly, I wasnt sure anyone there liked me at all! I was a Mason...but not a member of the Shrine then.

After I became a Noble things changed. I came to find the same Masons I had liked so much from the Lodge and the Rites before. It was another door opened to me in Freemasonry. And the guys seem to respect the fact that I had bothered to knock.

I came across something that one doesnt necessarily expect in this kind of event. In the midst of all of the fun and the craziness I happened to notice a lot of clear Masonic heads. Time after time, when situations arose, I witnessed men of good character standing together and seeing to it that, in the end, the Masonic thing was done.

There were a lot of guys with a great deal of compassion and Masonic worthiness watching over their Brothers. I saw them stand up against unmasonic conduct, defend the ideals of the Order and come to their Brothers aid when needed.

I found all of this very encouraging.

From everything I know, things havent been so smooth in some parts between the Blue Lodge and the Shrine. Many Masons are concerned that too many men are simply using the Blue Lodge as a gateway to the Shrine. Admittedly, I have been concerned about that as well. And yet, time and again when I attend Shrine events (at least in my area) I find that I am not simply cavorting with Shriners...but with Masons still.

I do not agree with those who would divide the bodies of Masonry. The Shrine is an important part of Freemasonry. It offers a place for Masons to gather together where they can stand at ease. They wont forget the Obligations and standards of the Order so long as there remain as many honorable Brothers as I know there to be in the rank and file. The Shrine offers so much to Masonry and serves so very well in its charitable contributions.

I would like to see all of the bodies of Masonry thrive. And it is up to every Brother to provide real honor and substance to the Order. Each Brother must stand tall among his Fellows wherever he finds them. If each man follows his Masonic Obligation he is part of the foundation. And if that man helps his Brothers follow it as well then he is a Builder.

We are Masons. We are Craftsmen of the Spirit. We are all indeed builders. Let us celebrate the bodies of Masonry together. Thus, together, we will keep the spirit of Freemasonry strong and never weaken that Light in our Temples.

I congratulate those Candidates who made it through their individual ordeals to call themselves Nobles. I'm sure you'll find the other Nobles, such as Masons, welcoming company. Becoming a man, building character and taking a good look inside are never easy things to do. But they are worth it.

It's all part of Brotherhood.

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