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So Old I Was New

October 5, 2017

Hi, I’m Jason. Are you new here?

No, I’m not.

I attended a dinner last night. It cost me $180. It wasn’t in a fancy restaurant. It was in a room with folding chairs and the food placed out on a folding table. The food was excellent. It was brauts, sauerkraut, and fried potatoes with bacon. We each served ourselves and fished a can of either Diet Coke, or Sprite out of cooler full of ice.

Most of them were unfamiliar faces, but I knew a few of them. I hadn’t been there in over a year.

I attended the monthly business meeting for Story Lodge #4, Free and Accepted Masons of Provo, Utah. This was my lodge.

The $180 were my annual dues for 2017. Yeah, I was pretty late in paying them. And this is the only meeting I will attend all year. There was nothing special about last night’s meeting. It’s just I was really busy earlier this year and I’ll be travelling during November and December’s business meetings.

You might ask, “Why?” And I admit, I asked myself that question. Why continue to pay dues and be a member of an organization if clearly I don’t have time to attend more than once per year? It’s a good question. And if you are not a Mason, or you don’t really know any Masons, the answer probably won’t make sense. In fact, it will probably seem pretty lame.

I started comparing notes with some of the “old” guys. I joined Story Lodge in 2006. I was shocked it’s been so long ago. I realized of the people there last night, there were only a couple of people who’d been in the lodge longer than me. I mentioned it to Kelly.

No. I joined in 2009. What about Cody?

Nope. I joined in 2012.

Rodney, it looks like you have been here the longest of anyone attending tonight.

Yeah, I’m the old guy. Not just in tenure, but I had the edge in physical age as well. Weird, I didn’t feel like the old guy.

But, back to why I continue to be affiliated with “the Fraternity,” as it’s called.

I had not seen Kelly in a year. Same for Cody, and Jeff, and Ephraim, and Blue, and Dave. I hadn’t seen many of the new members ever. And yet, we shared a bond. As we moved from the dinner into the lodge room for the actual business meeting, we went through the opening ceremony for a lodge of Entered Apprentices. It’s the first degree in Masonry and the majority of our members were new.

I looked up at the picture of George Washington. His portrait hangs in every Masonic hall in the United States. I thought of how the ceremony, the ritual, probably even some of the jokes, were the same. as they had been in the 18th Century when George was leading our country. The fraternity goes back hundreds of years. You cannot help but feel a connection to those men so long dead and buried. They sat in the meetings you sit in. They performed the rituals you participated in. they voted on new members just as you did. The feeling of history is strong in a Mason’s lodge.

The discussion turned to the upcoming funeral for a brother in Salt Lake City. A man who had been prominant in Utah Masonry.

Brethern, if you have never been to a Masonic funeral, I encourage you to make the trip. It’s a chance to see one of the imporant aspects of our order.

I looked down at the ring on my right hand. The square and compasses stand out in stark relief against the black onyx stone. The ring lets people know that I am a Master Mason. But, it has special significance to me. It was given to me by my uncle when I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. He is literally the reason I was sitting in that room last night.

He died last November. Had a heart attack while out on the last ride of the season. I attended his funeral and his lodge allowed me to play a small part in the Masonic ritual for his funeral. Yes, I’ve seen a Mason funeral. And it is a wonderfal opportunity to see an important part of the order.

My position as a Master Mason binds me to men all across the country and back through centuries of time. But, it also binds me to the men who sat in the lodge room last night. I have a place among them. And no amount of time away removes that spot. It’s good to belong to something bigger than yourself. It’s good to be a Mason.

Are you new?

No. No, I’m not. In fact, I’ve been here a long time. I’ve just been away for awhile.

It’s nice to know I belong.

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. 

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