Talisman #3: The Masonic Ring
If the ring falls apart. . .sell the gold
I knew it was coming, but it was still a surprise. To wear a Masonic ring, you must be a Master Mason. There’s no law, of course. And nothing to stop someone from buying a ring at a pawn shop and deciding they like the look of the square and compasses. But, tradition says only those who have been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason are allowed to wear the jewelry. And the reason my Masonic ring is one of my five talismans is all about tradition.
I didn’t know much about Masonry as I grew up, despite the fact that my grandfather was a Mason. (Talisman #2: The Lapel Pin.) If you know anything about Masons, it’s not a surprise that I could associate with a man and not know that he was a Mason. The Freemasons, while being one of the oldest fraternities in existence, are typically reluctant to talk about it.
If you want to know about Masonry, ask a Mason.
That was the watchword for generations. Masonry was passed down from father to son, not in a heirarchal pattern, but in a generational one. This practice of non-proselyting worked well for centuries. But, as the 20th century drew to a close, it appeared that perhaps so would Masonry. The fraternity started to age and there was a dearth of young Masons entering to carry on the tradition.
That’s what almost happened in my family. My mother’s father and her brothers were Masons. But, their children, my cousins had no interest. My father’s family had no history with Masonry. It appeared it might disappear from my family as the older generation passed on.
That was until I sent my uncle a simple email, “Can you tell me a little about Masonry?” I got back a three page reply. True to his training, my uncle believed it was not his place to share any information until he was asked. Once I asked, he was more than happy to share lessons gained from a lifetime of serving in Masonry.
Eventually, I petitioned to join the fraternity and was initiated as an Entered Apprentice, the first step on the road to becoming a Master Mason. My uncle made the trip from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho down to Provo, Utah to be part of my initiation.
It was about a year later that I completed the last of the requirements to be raised to Master Mason. To acknowledge the occasion, my uncle, a retired jeweler, sent me a gold and black onyx ring adorned with the Masonic symbol. Knowing the respect I had for family traditions and heirlooms, he also gave me the instruction to sell the gold should the ring fall apart. He knew I wouldn’t. And I knew he knew it.
We enjoyed many discussions about Masonry over the years. Never a religious man, his association with Masonry shaped his moral character and actions. He once told me that the purpose of Masonry was simply,
To make good men better.
And he lived that belief daily. At his funeral, I was asked to give the family message. And later, I was invited to be part of the ceremony to provide him final Masonic honors.
The ring, while not the most important ring I own, is worn daily on my right hand. It reminds me not only of the honorable goals of Masonry and the need to attempt to be a better man, but more importantly, it serves as a constant reminder of a man whose life was a living example of that ideal.
This is the third in a five-part series describing the talismans in my life.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved