By W. Bro. Neil Hare
(Past Master of Temple-Noyes-Cathedral Lodge No. 32)
Neil is also President and CEO of Global Vision Communications, a PR and Marketing firm in DC. He's the author of two novels, both available on Amazon here:
One Sunday evening in September, I ran into Brother Peter Brusoe on the platform of the Gallery Place Metro. My wife and I had just taken our three kids to the Marvel Live show at (the then) Verizon Center and we were waiting for the Red Line train. At the time, Sophie 10, Elizabeth 8, and Jack 6 were still reliving the excitement of Spider Man, Captain America, the Hulk and the rest of the good guys defeating Loki, Red Skull, the Green Goblin and the bad guys in a battle to save the Earth. The sugar from the cotton candy and lemonade had them bouncing all over the platform and made the retelling of the story even better!
It was good to see Peter. We chatted about several things on the platform and on the short metro ride. He had attended the Grand Lodge picnic that day and he filled me in on that. We talked about trying to spend as much time with Masonry as we could, the Governor McDonnell conviction, e-books, and politics. When we got to Dupont Circle my family and I got out to grab dinner before heading home and Peter kept going to his stop.
After our quick dinner we went to load into the car and it was then I noticed that Jack had the Spider Man hat and intergalactic, glowing sword we bought him, but not his stuffed Bunny – and I instantly felt a punch in my gut. My wife Kate bought the Bunny right before Jack was born. He looks like a farmer with a blue hat and overalls. At 6 years old Jack still carried him everywhere he went. Bunny calmed him down in stressful situations. Jack has issues controlling his emotions at times – a trait he got from his mother! – and Bunny has always been the one thing to keep his passions in check.
I drove quickly back to the restaurant, but Bunny wasn’t there. We figured at that point Bunny was still on the Red Line train to Shady Grove and he’d sadly end up in a dumpster never to be seen again. We got home and the girls went to bed. I poured myself four fingers of Jack Daniels and sat down to blankly stare at the Denver-Indianapolis game. Upstairs, I could hear Jack sobbing and Kate trying to console him, telling him there was a chance we could get Bunny back from the Metro.
The truth was that I’m sure Jack would have gotten over it quite quickly as children do. He probably would’ve found another stuffed animal to carry around, and anyway, he had to learn to deal with his anxious moments without Bunny.
It was then out of force of habit, I grabbed my phone to check emails, and there was an email from Peter: “Neil – Did one of your children leave a stuffed rabbit on the metro? – Peter” My heart leapt and I replied quickly that Jack had done so. We arranged to meet and I drove by Peter’s apartment to get him. We live nearby so it didn’t take long. When I got home, there was Jack waiting by the back door with an excited grin on his face. I gave him Bunny and then he gave me a giant hug. It was a great moment I will always cherish and all thanks to my Brother Mason, Peter Brusoe.
Now, there are many ways to look at what happened. Running into Peter that night could’ve been a coincidence, or maybe I would’ve met another friend who isn’t a Mason who might have done the same thing, or maybe a good Samaritan would have made sure Bunny made it to Metro’s Lost and Found and we would have recovered him. But, I’d like to think not. I like to think it was one of those moments that makes Masonry such a wonderful thing. Peter did what Masons do – look out for a Brother and his family, simply do the right thing, and try to make a difference. It was the latest chapter on my Masonic journey that has included events just like this.
The first one involved my introduction to Masonry, a story most of my Brethren at TNC know well. My uncle Louis Hare, a past Grand Master of the state of Israel and Mason in South Africa first talked to me about it over a decade ago. He had a sense it would capture my imagination and I’d enjoy the fraternity. After learning about it from him, the first person I thought to mention it to was my oldest friend in the world Matt “Doc” Clarkson. As it turned out Doc was a Mason following in the footsteps of his father Harry Clarkson, both members of TNC. I went to a TNC social, the Masters Roast of all events. I really didn’t understand what was happening but I knew I wanted in and the rest was history! It could’ve been another simple coincidence that my best friend was a Mason, but I’d like to think it was something more than that.
The second such event occurred five years ago. My wife was undergoing a procedure for breast cancer at Sibley Hospital. I was in the waiting room anxiously awaiting the outcome, where among other things we would learn if the cancer had spread. The surgery was running a bit long and I was getting nervous. Now, Sibley has always been a place of great memories for me as all three of my children were born there. One of the nicest moments of those experiences was when Bob Sloan, the President of Sibley at the time, and a Brother at TNC, would poke his head in my wife’s room to make sure everything was ok. Bob has since retired from Sibley. It was a nice touch to have the head of the hospital check up on us and reassure us he would help make the experience a positive one. Knowing Bob, he probably checked on as many patients as possible whether they were part of the Masons or not – but it always felt special to us.
So, as I was wearing a path in the carpet pacing back and forth and getting more nervous as time went on, I looked up and who should be walking towards me but Bob Sloan! Bob still advises the Board at Sibley and is actually writing a book about its history so he was there for a meeting. He didn’t know my wife and I were going to be there that day. I told him the situation and he put his hand on my back and whispered a little good counsel in my ear. He shared a similar personal story and told me he was sure everything would work out ok. We shook hands and said goodbye. Shortly thereafter the doctor came out and said the surgery went fine, the cancer was contained, and the outlook was extremely positive. After five years, my wife is cancer free. Again, that could’ve been a simple coincidence but, again, I’d like to think it was something much more than that.
When I left the East in 2010, I said in my parting remarks that Freemasonry answers this fundamental question, “Am I going through this life alone?” The answer is a resounding no and these stories show that vividly. I hope every Brother has similar experiences to mine or will one day. Maybe similar “coincidences” or maybe just times when a fellow Brother stepped up to help, give good counsel, or maybe just give a friendly handshake and slap on the back with a smile on his face. I also hope these stories help remind us why we are Masons in the first place, or when we’re wondering whether to take on more roles at our Lodges or the Grand Lodge they reminded us that the effort will pay dividends we can’t imagine or explain. And, maybe they will help us explain Masonry to non-members who may want to join our Fraternity. So if you ever need help explaining the magic of Masonry, I hope you remember the story of Peter and the Rabbit!
Happy holidays to you and your families!