(Past Master of Albert Pike Lodge No. 33)
I greet you well! And I extend you my very best wishes that the great work you have undertaken in your respective lodges this year will serve to strengthen the Craft in general, and your lodge in particular, in a manner and effectiveness that would make your predecessors proud.
Recently, I was reminded about just how privileged we are to be members of this noble fraternity, and how important our Masonic teachings can (and should) be in our daily lives.
In his classic, The Builders, Joseph Fort Newton writes that, “One of the most impressive and touching things in human history is that certain ideal interests have been set apart as especially venerated among all peoples.” As Masons, we not only share in those ideal interests, but labor side by side to improve ourselves, and thereby build a better world. In other words, we are taught to be builders of our inner temples, as well as in our communities. And we use the examples of the rough and smooth ashlars to illustrate our life-long journey in search of that perfection.
Indeed, Newton also writes, “How fitting, then, that the idea and art of building should be made the basis of a great order of men which has no other aim than the up-building of humanity …. Seeking to ennoble and beautify life, it finds in the common task and constant labor of man its sense of human unity, its vision of life as a temple ‘building and built upon’, and its emblems of those truths which make for purity of character and the stability of society.” Laboring side by side in the quarries, working together, supporting each other, teaching each other, learning from each other, makes for easier work while increasing productivity. Of course, in Masonry, the indispensable unit in this endeavor is the Lodge.
Brethren, it’s within our individual Lodges where the magic happens, and that’s as it should be. The Lodge is where the Master Mason should be enlightened, energized and engaged in a way that creates the superior experience of our ritual and the moral lessons that flow from it. The Lodge is where the Master Mason is empowered to do meaningful work and fight the good fight. The Lodge is where we build balanced and responsible leaders for our own communities, and the world. The Lodge is where we first learn about the promotion and maintenance of brotherly love, peace and harmony. The Lodge is where we should open and enrich our minds with new ideas and challenge our pre-conceived notions.
In all these worthy and important undertakings, I want you to know that the Grand Lodge is your partner, traveling companion, and faithful friend. For as William Hutchinson, in The Spirit of Masonry wrote, “We mean to travel to the same place; we know that the end of our journey is the same; and we affectionately hope to meet in the Lodge of perfect happiness.”