(Past Master of The Colonial Lodge No. 1821 & Fraternity Lodge No. 54)
I’ve always had this idea of what a traveling Mason would look like. The idea was inspired by equal parts of the tales of Knights Templar riding throughout Europe to the Holy Land, Scottish workmen approaching Rosslyn chapel, and movies like The Man Who Would Be King.
I pictured these sojourning Masons as wary travelers, carrying only their membership patents and a thin rolled-up apron, should they ever have the chance to meet a Brother on their travels. These Companions of the Mystic Tie would prove their membership through a secret token or a strand of words that would have them accepted into fellowship by their newest friends and brothers. That was my idea...my vision.
However, since starting my career with WWE and traveling throughout the country and the world, it seems I have become the traveling man in my vision (albeit with much less horseback riding and many, many more frequent flier miles). In fact, my job has me traveling to a new place every week, so I am seldom able to enjoy the experience of my own mother lodge for a stated meeting or a degree. So in this sense, I am quite literally a traveling Mason.
But I’ve tried. I’ve been a traveling officer and a traveling Master (which I can assure you, is only possible if you have a competent and hard-working officer line who can assist in the completion of a lodge’s goals and the execution of lodge responsibilities), but I assure you, it’s not the same.
So to make up for missing the experience at home, I try and visit a Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Cathedral or Shrine Center where ever I am, even if it’s just their exteriors, to keep me connected to the Fraternity. When it’s available, I’ll take a tour, like at the United Grand Lodge of England; or I’ll take a peek in, like visiting a DeMolay ceremony at the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. While this may seem simple, they allow me the chance to share a conversation with members from various Grand Lodges, where we can discuss their Masonic experience and the similarities (and differences) of ours in the Grand Lodge of DC.
But the Lodge rooms; oh how beautiful it is to see how Masons meet from around the country and around the world. It's interesting to see the variations in styles of architecture, and the different emphases placed on lighting, organs, seating, and accessibility to the brethren. Each room, while sharing similarities, feels different and local. From the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, where every Masonic body has a room dedicated to its practices to the old Scottish Rite of Los Angeles, whose external structure depicts the entire history of Freemasonry, it is amazing to see how Masons everywhere celebrate our honorable and gentle Craft.
These quick interactions, however, should not (and cannot) act as a substitute for a true Masonic experience. What that is, I leave up to each Mason to decide for himself and can only share my thoughts, opinions, and experience – and that is: The time spent away from Lodge activities and Brethren has given me a renewed focus on the daily aspects of Freemasonry to which our ritual alludes. So many members forget their Masonic obligations, or feel like they exist only when joined together with others or in the most extreme of circumstances, but we should never forget the decorum with which we must act and the standards we must keep when we are abroad in the world.
We should strive to fit in with the cultural norms and practices of the lands in which we inhabit, striving to be a productive member of society, all the while treating our fellow man with respect and admiration. Far too often our species immediately looks to discern the differences between ourselves, but with the Grand Architect of the Universe’s guidance, it is quite necessary that Freemasons are the pontiffs, the bridge builders of men across the globe.
As you have probably guessed, I have a great deal of time to reflect when traveling. Usually, I reflect on the blessings with which I’ve been afforded and the opportunities I will find to do good in my future travels. And although I may be many miles away from home and the lodges of men I call “Brother,” every foreign Masonic facility I come across serves a templum – or a reorientation towards the Grand East – the place from where all direction and education derives and where Freemasonry shines its brightest light!