Sean was excited. It was the night of his lodge meeting, and it would be the first time he would be attending after being made a Master Mason in the latest Grand Master’s One Day Class.
He stopped at a window in the hallway of his office building and looked out at the dreary, wet day, and knew getting to the meeting on time would be a challenge. Rain always slowed his commute from downtown to home, so going another five miles to lodge added another ten to fifteen minutes to the drive, and because of the rain, he estimated it should take him more like twenty.
Luckily, he had planned his day so he could get there early, so another twenty minutes would be OK. Yesterday he decided to ask his supervisor if he could work through lunch today so he could leave early. Sean had explained to him he was attending his first Masonic Lodge meeting and didn’t want to be late.
Sean and Tom Andrews, his supervisor, had talked about Masonry before Sean had joined. Tom was not a Mason but was impressed with Sean’s explanation of how Masonry intends to improve a man’s life. Sean told him it would help build a strong character, teach him personal improvement skills, and display solid moral values such as toleration and kindness. Tom believed if Masonry did all these things for Sean, his department and the company would benefit from Sean’s involvement.
Sean and his wife Terri had been married almost five years, and they had one daughter Anna who was three. Terri and Sean previously discussed how his involvement in Masonry would require some of his time. However, both were convinced that the benefits described to them by the members of the lodge interview team were worth adjusting the family schedule when necessary. Terri, a practicing attorney, frequently would have casework to review in the evenings, and Sean would be there to take charge of Anna. Since Sean’s lodge meets twice a month, Terri knew some lodge nights she would have work to do; Sean would be at the lodge, and Anna would demand attention. She saw this as something she would deal with if Masonry were important to Sean, and his time resulted in his improvement.
By the time Sean planned to leave work, the drizzling rain had turned to a downpour. He half-ran the four blocks from his office to the parking garage, and by the time he reached his car, his slacks were soaking wet from his knees down. His shoes, which were polished this morning, became drenched and muddy. When he reached the on-ramp to the interstate, as he anticipated, the traffic had backed up, and the cars on the highway were barely moving. Because he left work early, he still had time to reach the lodge for dinner that starts at 6:30.
Sean pulled into the lodge parking lot with about 10 minutes to spare. Not bad, he thought, considering there was an accident on the interstate that caused the traffic to snarl even more.
Strange thought Sean, there were only six cars in the parking lot. And then he thought that maybe like he, everyone was late getting there because of the rain. Before he got out of the car, he texted Terri to let him know he was at the lodge and asked if everything was OK. She replied it was and told him to have a good time.
As Sean reached the door of the lodge, he realized he was hungry. Skipping lunch was something he didn’t normally do, but if it helped him get to lodge on time, it was worth it. Besides, the lodge was providing dinner tonight. As Sean entered, he heard voices and headed that way. When he walked into the dining room, he saw eight men sitting around a table engaging in conversation. They didn’t immediately notice him, but one Brother finally did and said: “can we help you?”
Sean didn’t recognize any of the men at the table, and by the quizzical looks on their faces, he wondered if he had interrupted a conversation new Masons weren’t supposed to hear.
“I’m Sean Greeson,” he began timidly, “I became a Mason a couple of weeks ago in the Grand Master’s One Day Class.”
“Oh yeah I heard we had a couple of guys that were joining that day,” said one of the Brothers, “I decided not to go, I’ve seen the three degrees so many times I might have been bored.”
The comment caught Sean off guard. Everyone he met the day he became a Mason was upbeat, interested in learning about him, and wanted to know what he needed to make Masonry meaningful.
Sean was impressed with the ritual of the degrees, and for a Mason to say it may bore him didn’t make sense to Sean.
None of the men at the table took the initiative to introduce themselves, so Sean went around the table and shook hands with each Brother and introduced himself.
Trying to start some conversation, Sean asked casually, “So, what’s for dinner?”
“Well, I guess there isn’t going to be any dinner,” one Brother replied, “the stewards aren’t going to be here, and I guess the Master didn’t know that, so there is no food.”
Sean sat down thinking about how he had skipped lunch, got permission to leave work early, fought the rain and traffic, and now here he is at his first lodge meeting expecting dinner, and there is none. OK, he thought, things do happen, so maybe this wasn’t normal.
He had joined the Masonic Fraternity to better himself, associate with Men of good moral character and conduct, and from whom he could learn. Sean decided to try another subject to start a conversation with his new Brothers.
“How long have you been a member of the lodge?” Sean asked, directing his question to Brother Jim Strayer, who appeared to be the oldest of the group.
“Been a member for over 50 years,” Brother Strayer replied, “I’ve been Master of this lodge three times, it’s education officer five, the secretary, treasurer and have seen our membership go from over a thousand down to the 200 or so members we have now.”
Listening, as Brother Strayer replied, Sean heard a mix of pride and frustration, as well as being reminded of his grandfather, who had a way of presenting a gruff exterior, but deep-down was a warm-hearted, caring man. Sean learned from talking with his grandfather and asking about “the good ole days,” that great stories and knowledge would come of it. He decided if he used the same approach with Brother Strayer, he could keep him talking.
“Oh wow,” exclaimed Sean, “ a thousand members, that must have been an amazing time. Tell me about our lodge then, tell me how it felt to be Mason and around so many great men.”
Sean saw Brother Strayer’s eyes brighten, and as he began to recall the happenings at the lodge at the time. As he went on, he begins to tell stories of particular Brothers, and as continued, he included stories about some of the other Brothers seated at the table, whom Sean learned, were all Past Masters.
Pretty soon, every one of them was contributing not only great stories, but insight into the reasons each of them became Masons and why continuing to belong to the lodge was an essential part of their lives. Sean listened intently and felt a small sense of disappointment when the Worshipful Master announced it was time to gather and enter the lodge room.
As they were putting on their aprons, Brother Strayer and the other Past Masters thanked Sean for listening to them and said they hoped it didn’t sound like complaining when they talked about how the lodge used to be. Sean told them just how much he had enjoyed the stories and that he didn’t think they were complaining at all. Sean told them he wanted to hear more and look forward to many conversations with them.
On the way home, Sean realized he had forgotten about being hungry, and that he had endured rain and traffic jams to get to lodge on time. All he could think about was the conversation with his lodge brothers. How amazing it was to meet men much older, yet share something so meaningful as they related how much Masonry meant to them. Sean hoped he would find what they had experienced and vowed to himself that he would ask for their guidance to help him.
As he entered his house, Terri greeted him and asked, “well, how was it?”
Sean looked at his wife with a big smile; “do you remember my Grandfather Fred?”
“Sure, I do,” replied Terri.
“I met some guys just like him tonight.”