|Working On It
A newly proficient Master Mason asked the Worshipful Master, “Worshipful, now that I have completed all the degrees, I’m wondering what to do next. Should I start working my way through the offices? Should I join one of the other rites? Serve on a committee? Or spend my time reading and studying more about Masonry? What is your advice?”
The WM, pointed to a white-haired old Master Mason chatting with some brothers in the dining hall. “You can start by getting to know that old brother over there.”
So the young MM introduced himself to the old brother and they began a conversation. In a short time he learned that, many years ago, after getting the third degree the old brother had joined the York Rite and had become a promising member of the Royal Arch degree team, but had dropped out after a couple of years; that for a while he had also been a highly published author in a Masonic research society, but that too eventually became a thing of the past. In the process of their conversation, the young MM concluded that the old brother really wasn’t much of a Mason at all; he didn’t stick with anything, had never held an office other than Tiler or Junior Steward, and didn't even attend lodge regularly.
At the next lodge meeting, the young MM went to the WM and said, “I think I know why you sent me to talk to him. I heard all his stories about quitting this and that, and I realized that you wanted me to see how sad it is to have unfulfilled potential. That old brother is a very smart and gifted man, but he has wasted all of his talents”
The Worshipful Master shook his head, “No, brother, that’s not it at all. Did you ever ask him why he quit those things? You need to get to know him a little better.”
The young MM felt perplexed and a little ashamed. He went back to the old brother and continued the relationship. He asked, “Brother, why did you stop working in the York Rite.”
The old brother responded, “Oh, that was too much of a distraction.”
“What about the research society? Why did you drop out?” asked the young MM.
“Well, that was also a distraction.”
The young MM was feeling frustrated. “And why have you never served your lodge beyond the chair of Tiler or Junior Steward? Why don’t you even attend regularly? Wait. Let me guess. That too would be a distraction?”
“Yes, that’s true.” The old brother nodded matter-of-factly.
Now the young MM returned to the WM, sure that he understood the purpose of getting to know the old brother. “Every time I asked him why he quit or remained at some distance from his service to the fraternity, he just said it was ‘a distraction’. You wanted me to see that it was his selfishness that led him to waste his talents.”
“Not exactly,” replied the WM. “You didn’t ask him why or how those things were distractions, did you? You still need to get to know him better.”
The young MM was now feeling agitated, so he went back to the old brother and rather impatiently asked, “What did you mean by saying that all those things were distractions?”
The old brother answered: “When I joined the York Rite and then the Royal Arch degree team, I had in mind that it would make me the perfect Mason, respected and admired by my brothers. When I realized my motivation, I realized that it was distracting me from the essence of Masonry, and that I should really study Masonry in a different way. That’s when I joined the research society, convinced that this would lead me into becoming the perfect Mason, knowledgeable and able to impart that knowledge to my brothers. When I realized my motivation, I realized that it was distracting me from the essence of Masonry, which I then concluded must be found in humble service to my lodge and brothers. That’s when I returned to the lodge and started working my way through the chairs, certain that in doing so I would fulfill the virtues of a Master Mason, a worthy example to my brethren. When I realized my motivation, I realized that this too was a distraction from the essence of Masonry.”
The young MM sighed. “I apologize to you for my attitude. You’re a pretty wise fellow after all. Please tell me, what is the essence of Masonry.”
The old brother replied, “Well, I can’t really say, but I’m working on it.”
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