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Some Real Masonic Reflection

Some Real Masonic Reflection

You know, I can’t say that I would do anything for a free meal but when John called me and told me he was going to buy me lunch I just couldn’t say no. Even when he told me I had to meet him a ways south of town. The thought that he was scamming me crossed my mind but he usually finds some way to stick me with the tab anyway. He said he had a taste for some Italian food and there was a place he had eaten before called Gabriella’s that he really liked and if I wanted a free lunch I had better get on my horse and meet him. Well I haven’t ever named my truck or any of my vehicles like he named his (except for a couple of names I called it when it wouldn’t start) so I will just say I jumped in my truck and headed south hoping to get there before all the food was gone.

I arrived just after he did and found him sitting against one wall of the dining room with a gloomy look on his face just staring off into space. I slid into the chair across from him and asked how he was doing. He looked over at me and shook his head slowly and said in a kinda sad voice, “I’m ok Brother…… just a little melancholy. I just got back from the Valley and the wind was blowing like the dickens. The dust was terrible and I have been coughing and hacking for three days. I don’t feel good and I am in a bad mood.” “I am sorry John,” I replied. “You do look bad and sound terrible. So why did you want to meet for lunch? When I feel bad I don’t want to be around anyone.”

“I don’t really know,” he said slowly with a little smile. “Except that I didn’t want to eat alone, and I know that the newsletter is getting close to needing to get done.” He went silent all of a sudden looking at the menu. I saw him look up across the room a couple of times and figured he was looking for a waiter so I flagged one down and he quickly got our drink orders and went to get that for us. Soon he was back with two iced teas and said he was ready to take our order. I went first and ordered Lasagna because I like Lasagna and because John had told me it was the best. I was informed that it came with unlimited salad and bread which was good enough for me. He then turned to John who said, “Bring me two of them there Lasagna Plates with all the fixins. I also want a bowl of that spinach/artichoke dip as an appetizer (which I knew he wasn’t going to share) and throw a medium sausage and mushroom pizza in there too.” It was obvious that they had served John before because the size of his order didn’t cause a stir at all.

When the waiter asked if there was anything else he wanted, John looked up and said, “Yes there is. Every time I look across the room there is a feller over there staring at me. I don’t even know him. Can you ask him not to stare at me?” The waiter and I looked at the same time towards the other side of the room and the only thing in John’s line of sight was the opposite wall about 40 feet away. And the wall was actually a mirror which made the whole room look much bigger. I look at the waiter and he looked at me and the pained look on his face at the

realization that John was probably looking at himself was almost too much to bear and I tried hard not to laugh out loud. In John’s defense, the lighting in the room was low but the waiter and I both could see well enough. I could see the waiter struggling to keep a straight face too. I just couldn’t let it go and I asked John which guy he was talking about and he looked over and sure enough he was looking at himself in the mirror. Before I could say anything, John muttered under his breath, “That’s him right there.” Then he gave a kind of wave which of course was simultaneously returned. He then shrugged and looked up at the waiter and said, “Oh heck, he seems like a friendly enough sort. Don’t worry about telling him anything, and looked back down.” I was holding on by a thread and I looked at the waiter whose mouth was hanging open and was looking at John with total disbelief. That’s when I lost it. I laughed out loud for several minutes with John looking at me like I was crazy. The waiter had walked away shaking his head.

I didn’t have the heart to tell John so to change the subject I asked him if he had anything for the newsletter. To my shock and surprise he said, “No I don’t.” I must have looked like I had been slapped because he quickly continued, “I am still aggravated about a lot of the same old things and I am sure your readers don’t want to hear the same things over and over.” “I agree John,” I replied. “But I count on you having something profound to say. Heck the title of the column is about you” “Hey now, Brother Chris,” he shot back a little defensively. “Don’t get yourself too excited. We’ll figure something out. Surely there is something that YOU have going on that we can talk about.”

Yes, I was getting over excited, but the column wasn’t the Profound Pontifications of Brother Chris Williams for crying out loud. Brothers didn’t read the article to hear what I had to say. It was all about John. I opened my mouth to complain but before I could say anything our food showed up. I knew there was no talking to John now because he had a pile of food in front of him. He totally ignored me and set about consuming with serious concentration every single scrap of food within arm’s reach. Watching him, it was not hard to imagine that leftovers in the Deacon house were pretty much non-existent. As I sat there enjoying my Lasagna which was just as John had said, the best, I had time to think about John’s words. Was there anything going on with me that we could talk about? I thought and thought about it and the harder I tried, the less I came up with. Most everything at my Lodge and the Fraternity in general was good and I really had nothing much to complain about. This was not good. I didn’t know what we were going to do but I did know it was John’s fault.

Then as I sat there enjoying my lunch something did pop into my mind. I remembered that Jerod, one of my Lodge Brothers, had texted me a couple of weeks before with a picture of a bumper sticker he had seen on a car that he was sitting behind in traffic. When I saw it, I was a little shocked because it was not only blatantly false in its claim, but a serious accusation printed on a bumper sticker. I figured that John would surely have an opinion about that.

I finished as usual before him as he had about four times more to eat than I did and pulled the picture of the bumper sticker up on my phone to show him. There on the back bumper of the car was a sticker that said…..”Freemasonry, the seed of evil”…..and it had John Quincy Adam’s signature below it. John took my phone and squinted his eyes to see the picture….(I guess I should have told him that he could blow it up so he could see it better but….) He smiled and said, “ Ahhhh, yes I remember reading about John Quincy. He was our 6th President and he got beat out of a second term by Andrew Jackson who was a Mason. He really never got over the bad feelings of that defeat. He was also active and outspoken concerning the events surrounding the Morgan affair. And I remember seeing a quote of his that said that no true Christian could ever be a Mason. Heck he wrote a whole book on the evils of Masonry.

“But that’s pretty bad John,” I said. “First of all, it’s not true and secondly something like that shouldn’t be on a bumper sticker. I haven’t ever seen a bumper sticker or a sign that says something as bad as that about any organization.” “Actually,” he said slowly. “It might be more good than bad.” “Whaaaaat?!!” I snapped back at him probably a little louder than I meant to. How can you say that? Has that Lasagna overload killed off most of your brain function and the remaining cells are running for their lives?” I don’t have a clue what set him off but he was just silent for a few seconds and then I saw a little smile start to form and that smile became and grin and the grin a chuckle and then he leaned back and let loose with a long rolling laugh that had everyone in the room looking our way and most of them laughing too even though they didn’t know why.

I knew then he had lost his mind and I had sent him over the edge. Just as I was about to dial 911 he grabbed his napkin and wiped the tears out of his eyes and said, “I was just imagining those brain cells running for their lives from a piece of lasagna. Seriously, Brother Chris, you have to understand that there have always been, there are now, and there will always be those who dislike and even hate us and our Fraternity. But you have to try to understand why they hate us. To us it seems ridiculous because we ARE Masons and we KNOW what we are. Those that hate us don’t KNOW who we are. You and I have already beaten to death all the reasons why our Fraternity in particular is hated so much by certain people. I don’t think I have ever seen a company or organization of any kind that has all the negative things written about it that Masonry does. And we already know that we bring some of it on ourselves because too many of our Brethren simply do not know how to verbalize what Masonry is or what Masons are. But I think we haven’t talked much about what the effect, if any, are the negative articles on the internet, or the books written denouncing the Craft as evil or the cause of all things anti religious.”

Now I don’t claim to be the smartest Brother around and I could be totally off base about this but I think that the all the negative things actually may help us. I think it’s safe to say that all the negativity doesn’t hurt us all that much. The Morgan affair did hurt the Fraternity with respect to membership and you can say that it was devastating to a certain extent but I might argue that most of those Brothers who gave up their Masonic membership over the Morgan affair might not have had the character to be true Masons in the first place. There is no doubt that those who turned their backs on the Fraternity permanently and never returned, probably never had Masonry in their hearts. Who knows, possibly that purge might have done more good for the Fraternity than bad in the long run.

Masonry has stood the test of time. If there really existed within the Craft the evil that extremists contend, it would have been exposed to the world long ago. It is true that men of low character have infiltrated our Lodges from time to time whose only purpose is to satisfy their misguided and uninformed belief that Masonry has some deep dark ulterior motive than to simply make good men better. And when they find out that there is no conspiracy…..no evil, of course they remove themselves from the organization. But that doesn’t satisfy their need to disrupt and destroy. Just like we take the symbols of Masonry to help teach our moral lessons, they take some of those same symbols and attempt to convince others that their meanings are evil. These sad people have hate in their hearts and are going spread that hate in any way they can. Fortunately for us, we are not the only thing they hate. Unfortunately for them, their accusations cannot be sustained because they are easily proved false. And so Masonry survives and will continue to survive.”

“Ok John,” I interrupted, even though I know that irritates him. “I understand all of that. But how does the negative stuff help us. It doesn’t make any sense to me.” He gave me a withering stare, which I expected, before giving me his testy reply, “My Brother, Masonry first and foremost is about quality…..not quantity. However, the more Masons we make, the more influence for good we can have on our world. The answer to every problem our Fraternity has, whether real or imagined, is in our failure to practice true Masonry. True Masonry is light….and light is knowledge. Therefore Masonry is knowledge… purely and simply, knowledge. Masonry must be LEARNED……PRACTICED……and PASSED. It really is that simple. Everything else we do from our dinners and fellowship, to our family programs, to our charitable activities, and everything else, is just icing on the cake. But too much of the time we consume only the icing and leave the cake.”

Then he stopped and looked around and waved our waiter over and asked, “What kinds of cake do ya’ll have?” Well, I thought my mind was going to explode. I almost reached across the table and grabbed him, “Wait, wait, wait, you can’t just stop in the middle of that talk and ask for cake.” He ignored me, as usual, and asked for a double slice of double chocolate….or in his

words “choke-let” cake. The waiter left to get John’s cake and he turned back to me and said, “Ok now where was I?” “You were about to get happily beaten by your Brother,” I said through clenched teeth. “I understand the cake and icing analogy completely. And I know that our membership issues have everything to do with most Lodges failure to give our Brothers, both new and old, what they thought they were going to get when they submitted their petition. And I know that it stems from the fact that Masons can’t just practice Masonry, and teach this system of moral development as it was meant to be taught, without injecting their own ideas of what men want and what they don’t. What I want to know is how anti-Mason statements and writings help rather than hurt us and no cake until you finish.”

I knew I had about as much chance of enforcing that last statement as I have of winning the Lotto, but I was hoping to get him to concentrate. “OK, Brother Chris,” he said with a half smile. “I believe, and this is my opinion only, that most men who see something like that bumper sticker don’t even care about it and will never give it a second thought. There will be some who will cluelessly agree. But there will also be some who will see that and wonder what it all means. Those will be men and maybe some women who are inquisitive, intelligent and thinking people who will want to know what the heck it all means and will take a moment to find out. And when they do, and they see that Masonry is a good and worthwhile organization, I believe that the seed of them becoming Masons is planted. As for a woman seeing it, I believe that any woman would be happy to have her husband be part of an honorable an organization such as Masonry and her learning the truth about our Fraternity can only be a good thing.

These are the kind of men that we need in Masonry and as for the bad bumper sticker, because of the pure and honorable principles of our order, there is nothing to fear from anti-Masons. They have tried to destroy Masonry many times and have always failed because Masonry is good. And you cannot destroy good.” Just then John’s cake arrived and I was left alone with my thoughts. It takes him a while to get to the point sometimes, as it is with a lot of Masons I know, but when he does I usually like it and agree with it. I hoped I could write it all down without losing the importance of some of his words. I sure do wish that all Lodges and Masons would get back to being students and teachers. I liked Learn, Practice, and Pass…….Learn well how to be a Mason, Practice the teachings and lessons in all your daily life, and Pass them on you your Brethren and all of mankind.

My daydreaming was interrupted by John’s agitated voice. He had finished his cake and was looking across the room again. “Dang if that old boy ain’t still a looking at me,” he said. “I am just going to have to go over there and see what it is he is staring at.” “Whoa up there John, I said quickly. Maybe you ought to just forget about it. He hasn’t caused you any trouble. “You are right Brother Chris but he just won’t stop. I ain’t caught him looking anyplace else and it’s starting to bother me.” “But John, going over there is not going to make you feel any better,” I

said softly. “Trust me on this. Consider this one Brother whispering good council in another Brother’s ear.”

He was just staring at the wall and then without another word he abruptly stood up and made a beeline for the wall. Well of course what he saw was the “other guy” quickly getting up and walking towards him and that startled him a bit cause he suddenly stopped, a little unsure all of a sudden. It was kinda comical…John and the “other guy” standing there staring at each other. It looked like the beginning of an old episode of Gunsmoke and the gunfight they all started with.

All of a sudden John took one step as did his reflection and then another and then one more and he stopped. By this time, his weird behavior had gotten the attention of all the diners and employees in that part of the room and they were sitting there enthralled by John having a showdown with his reflection in the mirror on the wall. I was like everyone else, frozen in place, waiting to see what was going to happen.

Suddenly I saw his body language change as he realized his mistake…….and like a slap in the face it hit me that he was going to be embarrassed in front of everyone. And really I don’t care if he gets embarrassed in front of me ……but I didn’t want him to be embarrassed in front of the whole room full of people. I don’t even remember getting up but I quickly walked past him pointing at the floor next to the mirror wall motioning him to follow….which he did with a confused look on his face. We got to the wall and I bent down and placed my ring that I had taken off on the floor so that no one could see. Then I picked it up and handed it to John. He looked at it for a second and then the realization hit him and he smiled, grabbed my hand, palmed my ring back to me, gave me a big John Deacon hug, and whispered in my ear, “I should have listened to good council.” Then he turned and walked out the door. I walked back to the table to get my coat and all I could do was laugh. There on the table was our bill. Some things never change. Y’all get back to being students and teachers, ok? There’s a lot of happiness in it. See you next month.

Masonry In Spite of Mona

The Profound Pontifications

of Brother John Deacon

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV

Masonry In Spite of Mona

 

Almost the whole month had gone by and I realized I hadn’t heard from his largeness, aka, my Brother John. It was almost lunch time on a Friday and I was thinking that it was going to be a real problem if I didn’t get to experience the profundity of his wisdom and knowledge. Nahhh, not really. It would mean I would have to make something up and I surely don’t think all of you want to read something I made up. So, I called his cell phone and after ringing ten times Mrs. Deacon answered. I thought it was strange that he wasn’t out on the road somewhere. I asked where the great one was and she told me that he was in the hospital which scared the heck out of me. Without calmly finding out what was wrong, I just assumed (we all know what happens when you assume) that it was bad and asked for the name of the hospital and the room number and hung up.

Being a Friday afternoon, we were just winding down for the week and just had a few cars needing to be picked up by customers so I asked Leonard if I could get out a little early to go visit John in the hospital. He wanted to know what was wrong with John and all I could do is just stand there with a dumb look on my face and say “I don’t know.” He said at his age it’s probably not good so get out of here and call us and let us know. I knew I had a long drive ahead of me but getting out at noon would put me at the hospital in plenty of time for visitors. I drove as fast as I dared and pulled up in front of the hospital right at five o’clock. It wasn’t a big hospital but I ended up having to ask for directions anyway.

They had him ensconced in a room on the second floor, way back in the corner (big surprise). I could hear his booming voice long before I got to his door. It sounded like he was complaining about something (another big surprise). As I got to the doorway, I saw Mrs. Deacon give him a kiss on the cheek and tell him to behave himself. She looked up and saw me, came over and smiled and gave me a hug and said, “I am glad you are here. I have to run some errands. You can deal with the grouch for a while.”  I promised I would get him under control to which she gave me a little smirk on her way out the door.

As I stepped into the room a nurse flew by me and blocked my way and snarled. “Only immediate family is allowed in here.” Before I could reply John said, “He’s OK, he’s my Brother.” She walked up to me and I could see the little badge around her neck that said “Hi, my name is Mona, I am here to give you the best care anywhere.”  And while I was contemplating that, she looked me up and down with a stern stare and said. “You don’t look a bit like him.” With no time to think I quickly replied, “We had different Mothers.” She continued her inspection and walked out of the room mumbling something about “that’s what they all say.” 

I shook my head to clear it and walked over to John’s bed and asked him what he was in for. He said that they were going to do a knee replacement the next day. I was stunned.  I said with a trace of sarcasm in my voice, “I drove all the way up here, worried about you and all that’s wrong is the bum knee you have had forever?” “My wife told me you hung up before she could tell you what was going on,” he shot back.  “It’s not my fault you came all the way up here.” “Heck, you could have called me back,” I said. “I told her not to call you back,” he replied. “I am glad you came because otherwise we couldn’t have talked this month and you would have just had to make something up.” Hmmmm, I thought. That’s a little freaky and way too clairvoyant for me…… but he was right. So I settled down in the recliner next to his bed and asked, “So what is your major problem? I could hear you complaining about something when I stepped out of the elevator way down the hall. You know they will just throw you out of here if you keep it up and Nurse Mona looks like she could do just that.”

“Brother Chris,” John complained. “It’s the food. It’s terrible and there’s not near enough of it and Nurse Mona doesn’t seem to care. I see her and my wife talking in the hall whispering to each other and looking at me. I think they are doing this to me on purpose. I am about to pass out from hunger.” “Ok, OK John,” I said as soothingly as I could, I will go and get you a big hamburger or something and smuggle it into the hospital. Would that make you happy?” John’s voice got real low and he looked from side to side like he thought the room might be bugged and whispered, “I have got it handled. We should have some more company in a few minutes.”

No sooner than he had uttered those words that four guys walked into the room. One had a bouquet of flowers and one had a card and the other two were carrying a very large box that had a big bow on it. Before anyone could say anything, Nurse Mona appeared in the doorway and announced that only immediate family could be in the room to which John told her that all four were his Brothers. She said “No way” and proceeded to study each of their faces one by one. They were all frozen in place and obviously afraid to move. She was pretty intimidating. Finally, she turned to John and said, “Mr. Deacon I see no family resemblance in any of these men.” The one holding the flowers said, “That’s because….. and before he could finish, she turned on him and cut him off …. “You’d better not say that you all had different Mothers.” We all just stood there like statues, all of us afraid to speak. All of a sudden Mona threw up her hands and said, “Just be warned that visiting hours are over at Eight O’clock and anyone who is left I will throw out.”

I don’t know about the other fellers but I surely believed her and made a note to myself to be long gone by eight. As she was leaving, John called out to her and asked if she would shut the door because we had some important family business to discuss. She whirled around in the doorway and gave all of us a withering stare which spoke volumes about what she was thinking right then and she backed out slowly closing the door as she did. 

“Holy Maloney, John,” I said. “That lady is all business.”  “You darn tootin’ she is,” he hurriedly replied. “We don’t have much time. Brother Chris these are my Brothers Harold, Lloyd, Vester, and Bob. Brothers this is my Brother Chris from San Antonio. We shook hands all around and Bob said, “So this is who you tell all them stories to and everyone thinks you are so durn smart and such. Brother Chris, you and me need to talk sometime.”

“We don’t have time for that,” John interrupted as I nodded in agreement with Bob. “Let’s get to it.  Brother Harold, you see that the door is properly tiled.” Brother Harold replied, “Yes Wor…. I mean OK John.” He put a chair in front of the door and sat down.  While I stood there with my mouth hanging open in shock, the big box was opened a big plastic bag was untied and I watched as more food was pulled out than I thought could possibly fit in that box.

No wonder it took two to carry. There was chicken of every kind and description. There was Fried Chicken, Baked Chicken, Chicken Tenders, and even gizzards and livers, which I can do without, but the rest of them seemed to like them a lot. Next came out a pot of Chicken and Dumplings which made my mouth water uncontrollably.  Then they hauled out about 10 ears of corn on the cob and a bowl of fried Okra which I reached for right away. Heck they even had two loaves of homemade bread. I remarked that the only thing missing was something to wash it all down which got me a sideways glance and a shake of the head by Brother Vester as he pulled out a gallon of Tea and a gallon of Lemonade and cups for everyone.

We were all digging in when John seemed to remember something and turned and called out across the room, “Mr. Jackson? Are you awake over there?” It was then I realized that this was a two – patient room and there was a long curtain separating the two beds. “Hell yes I am awake,” growled the voice from the other side of the curtain. “How could anybody sleep with all that racket going on over there?” “Well I am sorry about that,” John replied apologetically. “Are you hungry?” “It’s about time,” he growled again. “I thought you’d never ask. I was just about to push my panic button and have Nurse Mona break up your party. But you just bought my silence. Now pull this durn curtain out of the way and let me have some real food. I have been in here four days and I can’t take it any more either.”

We all ate fast and in total silence savoring all the wonderful tasting homemade food. The only family business that was discussed throughout the meal was that everyone needed to go to dinner at Brother Lloyd’s house some night because it was his wife that had make most of the food. I can tell you dear readers it was a meal that I would drive five hours to have anytime. While the Brothers were cleaning up the mess that we made, Brother Harold opened the window to let the smell dissipate. Mr. Jackson broke the silence saying, “You know that it’s not going to take Nurse Mona long to figure out your little game. “Whatever do you mean Mr. Jackson,” John asked with an innocent look on his face. “I am just saying that she will figure out that you all are Masonic Brothers at some point and she won’t be happy. She is a by the book person.”

“How did you figure it out,” John asked? “It really wasn’t that hard,” he replied. “My Father was a Mason.  Anyway, thanks for the dinner. Now pull that curtain and let me sleep.” John’s food posse said their goodbyes and told John they would check on him after his surgery and left. I looked up at the clock and it was already close to seven o’clock. I had to drive back that same night so I needed to extract any wisdom of any kind worth using in my column in less than an hour. 

I sure didn’t want to be here when Mona came back. I said in a low voice nodding towards the curtain that separated John’s bed with Mr. Jackson’s, “Do you have anything you want me to tell the Brothers who read the Newsletter?” He pondered a moment before replying and then said, “Don’t worry about talking low. What I have to say can be said in front of anyone.” A low growl came from the other side of the curtain, “I would just as soon you keep it low. I’m trying to sleep.” John lowered his voice to just above a whisper and said, “Brother Chris when did you decide to become a Mason?” “Oh my gosh,” I thought to myself. “I am waiting to hear something profound and important and he’s asking personal questions.” And aloud, “I was initiated in 1984 John so it must have been sometime before that. But what does that have to do with anything?” “No,” he said. “When did you decide to be – come a Mason?” “Come on John,” I asked. “What do you want me to say? I was Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in 1985. I guess I became a Mason then, right?”

“No My Brother, you are not getting what I am asking,” he said as he frowned at me. “Then I am confused John. You need to unconfused me.” “Me too,” chimed in the voice on the other side of the curtain. John and I looked at each other and then at the curtain. Then he shrugged and said, “Brother Chris, people are always asking me when I became a Mason and I have always answered like you did and then the other day it hit me like a lightning bolt right between the eyes.” And as he said it he gave this dramatic demonstration of his idea of a lightning bolt hitting him right between the eyes.

“John,” I said hurriedly as I looked at the clock, we don’t have much time. You need to not be so dramatic and get to the point.” ‘He’s right,” echoed Jackson from next door. You are giving me a headache. Get to it man.” “OK, OK here it is,” he said with an exasperated tone, glancing at the curtain as he spoke. “When you were initiated, you were “made” a Mason. When you were Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason you were told that you were entitled to all the “rights and benefits” of a Master Mason, but nowhere in any of your Degrees or your memory work did anyone tell you or did you read that you had “become” a Mason. You know why? Because you hadn’t. Just because a man is Initiated, Passed, and Raised does not mean he has “become” a Mason. Finishing the Degrees does not mean that instantaneously a Brother has become the man that our Principals and Teachings can make him.

There are many, many Brothers out there that have never made the decision to “become” a Mason. Oh, sure, they had to be good men, of good character to even be considered for membership into our gentle Brotherhood, but “becoming” a Mason takes time, and study, and reflection, and lots and lots of hard work. No wonder that it is said that Masonry is a “Way of Life” because for most Brothers it becomes your life and is a lifetime work in progress. Given the proper amount of time and thought it becomes a part of everything you say and do …. of every decision you make and every life you touch. It inspires you to do things you never thought you could do. But just because you carry a membership card doesn’t …. and I repeat, doesn’t mean you have become a Mason. 

“I think I understand what you are saying John,” I said hoping I wasn’t disturbing Mr. Jackson. “It is pretty easy to spot each of those Brothers who have “become” a Mason. There aren’t that many of them though.” “Yup, Brother Chris,” he said, “but there are many, many more Brothers out there who have made the conscious decision to begin the work necessary to “become” a Mason. All Masons are good men, but there are those who you just know that have “become” everything that Masonry is about. They have not an unkind word or thought, but always a thoughtful smile and a warm handshake. A Brother who you know immediately would do anything for you and who you could trust with your life. They are men who go about their lives doing good things for others without fanfare or recognition. Too many Brothers walk around with a membership card in their wallets and think that means they have “become” a Mason, but I can tell you that they are wrong in their thinking. There is a difference in being a good man and “becoming” a Mason. Now do you know what I am talking about?”

Before I could answer a sad sounding voice from the other side of the curtain said, “Well I sure do.  You make a very good point. I happen to be one of those card-carrying Brothers. I never made that decision to “become” a Mason.” John and I just stared at each other not saying anything. I could imagine Mr. … err… apparently Brother Jackson lying there staring at the ceiling absorbing John’s words. The silence was finally broken by John who asked, “Why didn’t you say you were a Mason before?” I heard the Brother take a deep breath and blow it out, and then he said, “Well I guess I was a little ashamed. Not ashamed to be Mason but ashamed that I never learned how to be a true Mason. My Lodge Brothers were all good men I am sure, but I never felt like I was one of them and it was easier to not go to Lodge than to make a place for myself there. I figured that I was a Master Mason so I was as much a Mason as any of them but just now I sadly realize that I never was.” Then I heard him chuckle and say, “Brothers, I stopped believing in coincidences long ago and I believe that somehow I was supposed to be right here tonight to hear what you said. Thank you for saying it and ….. thanks for the dinner. Now be quiet and let me sleep.”

John and I just stared at each other with a dumb look on our faces. “So, Brother Chris,” said John “Did I give you something to pass on to the Brothers?” All I could do is shake my head and smile. “John,” I said. “You surely did and I will tell you what I think.  I think you “became” a Mason a long time ago.” “I am not so sure about that, Brother Chris,” he said seriously.  “But I appreciate you saying it. I just hope that when the Supreme Architect calls me home, he won’t be disappointed in me.”

All of a sudden the door burst open and there she was….. Nurse … Mona, and she had one of those “HA, I caught you” looks on her face. She looked around the room and seemed disappointed that the other Brothers were already gone and then her eyes settled on me. I glanced at the clock and realized I was on her time. I could feel my hair prickling on the back of my neck as I stammered in a weak voice, “I was just leaving.” “You sure are,” she growled. “It’s eight o’clock. Say your good – byes and get out. I’ll be waiting outside.” Well I just stood there frozen for a few seconds and I realized that my knees were shaking. “Boy she scares the crap out of me,” I said. “I am sure glad I am not in here.” “Thanks a lot,” John whined. “You’d really go and leave a Brother behind knowing how she is?”  “I feel confident that you and Brother Jackson can take her no problem,” I said not really meaning it. “Don’t count on it”, Came the voice from beyond the curtain and I realized I needed to get while the getting was good.

 I said, “OK John, I gotta go now.” “Here take this box with you,” he said quickly. “No John,” I said. “What if she smells it. She will surely kick my rear end all over the place.” “Better you than me,” he shot back. “Now go!” I grabbed the box and did what my Dad told me a long time ago to do in a tight situation. I kept a stiff upper lip and a puckered rear ….  and stepped out into the hall. Oh yes, she was waiting for me all right. I said a little prayer and ended with a whispered “So Mote It Be” that I could get by Nurse Mona with this big box of food trash with my hide still intact….  and boldly started for the elevator.

Then out of nowhere something devious popped into my mind and I thought, “What the heck” and changed my course to pass close by where she was standing with her hands on her hips her eyes shooting daggers at me. As I went past her I leaned in and whispered in her ear that John had told me that he thought she was a real cute. Boy… she reacted as if she had been slapped. As I got on the elevator she was still standing in the same spot with a stunned look on her face. I must have laughed half the way home. I made a mental note to myself not to answer any calls from John for a couple of weeks. He was going to need time to cool off. I hope to talk to you all next month. Have a good one.

 

 

High Twelve in Sweetwater, TX

It has been a while since I have seen John, since he retired and all, but as fate would have it, I did accidentally happen to see him…or maybe it wasn’t accidental at all. But I couldn’t let this experience just go by without sharing it. It was one of those times, which as I have gotten older and a little wiser (which is up for argument according to Pam) that I have been able to see past the obvious and realize that things…at least some things… happen as if they were written in some ancient spiritual script and we are merely following what was predetermined long ago. By now you are probably screaming at the page to ‘get to the point already’ ……and so I shall.

It was a Friday a few weeks ago and I was on my way to Lubbock Texas to a weekend training conference with some other members of the Education and Service Committee. Larry, our Chairman was heading the same way, just from a different direction. He was bringing two other of our committee members Richard and Lane. Realizing that our routes were going to join in a little town called Sweetwater and pretty close to lunch time, we decided to meet there and have some lunch and do a little planning for the weekend ahead before driving the last leg into Lubbock. We had sought the advice of that learned sage Uncle Google, and found out that the best place to eat in the area was Allen’s Home Style restaurant located just east of beautiful downtown Sweetwater, Texas. That seeming like our best option, we decided to meet there around noon.

Well, I got there about 45 minutes before they did and since I was unfamiliar with the town I figured I would locate this Allen’s Home Style restaurant and make it easier for them to find when they got in. I entered the address into my GPS and “proceeded to the highlighted route where the guidance system took over”….sounds familiar, huh? And she says that every time. As it turned out, I didn’t need the navigation system because it looked like every vehicle in Sweetwater was parked at Allen’s. I thought, “Wow, it looks like we picked the right place for sure. I called Larry and told him how to get to the restaurant and told him I was going to see if I could find an antique shop to look through while I waited. He threatened me about buying “all the good stuff” and he was still hurling threats as I hung up on him. He and I are on the same page when it comes to old Masonic stuff.

I conversed briefly with my favorite Uncle Google again to ascertain the whereabouts of any antique shops in Sweetwater and got four possibilities. I have been really lucky in the past to find some old and rare Masonic jewelry as well as some old books. All of the shops happened to be located on the same street and all were closed except one. I parked and walked in and was immediately greeted by the owner and his wife who told me to take my time and look around. I said that I didn’t have a lot of time but that I was just looking to see if they had anything in the store that was Masonic in nature.

Immediately I got the feeling that I had said something wrong. He and his wife looked at each other and then everywhere but at me. It was like I was a DEA agent and they were drug kingpins. They looked as guilty (about something) as I’ve ever seen anyone. I was greatly confused and asked, “What’s wrong?” And looking from side to side like he didn’t want anyone to hear (there was no one else in the store) he leaned across the counter towards me and said in a low voice, “I do have a few things but I can’t let anyone see them until the Mayor sees them first.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open trying to figure out what I had missed. A lot of things flashed by in my mind….did this town have a problem with Freemasons? Was I in some kind of danger? The hair stood up on the back of my neck as I watched his hands to see if he pressed a hidden button under the counter. Or did they have something really valuable and special? Or maybe …Brad is right when he says I am such a drama queen. Well that may be but this was a still little weird. There we were

just staring at each other across the counter when the silence was broken by the voice of reason….aka his wife saying, “Yes the Mayor is the Master of the local Masonic Lodge and he has first dibs on all Mason stuff.” “Ahhhh!,” I said, the light finally shining in. “I totally understand now. He is not only a good man but a smart man as well.” And as they nodded in agreement I thanked them and took my leave from the little antique shop on the corner of Main Street.

I decided to go back to Allen’s and just wait for the guys to show up. When I got there it was close to one o’clock and most of the cars had cleared out so I took a spot in front row. I wasn’t sitting there more than five minutes when Larry’s Tahoe pulled in and parked next to me. We all piled out of our trucks and threw the usual pleasantries and insults at each other and headed for the front door of Allen’s.

The minute we walked in the door we were confronted…and I do not mean greeted, I do mean confronted… by a woman who demanded to know how many were in my party. Startled, I quickly said four and she pointed to a table for ten that had three guys already sitting at it and said, “Sit there.” Not even looking at who we were going to be sitting with I glanced around at the room and saw that there were seven other tables and all of them were empty. I was confused, and by the look on Larry’s and the other guys’ faces they were too but before I could ask why, the woman ordered us again to sit.

Now, I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I am married and have been for 41 years and unless my life is in jeopardy, when a woman says sit I usually sit….and ask questions later. Apparently, Larry, Richard, and Lane had been trained in the same tradition. As we sat she asked what we wanted to drink suggesting iced tea and by the time our rear ends hit the chair there were drinks already in front of us. If everything hadn’t gone fast enough already, it got even faster as several women started placing platters and bowls of food on the table in front of us. We were still in the stunned mode and watched as each bowl and platter was picked up as soon and it hit the table by the guys across from us and after shoveling some onto their own plates, they passed them down. Eventually each platter and bowl made its way around the table to us where we likewise took some for ourselves. There was a platter piled high with fresh hot fried chicken (the best I have ever had) and another with half inch slabs of roast beef. There were bowls with what looked like every kind of vegetable known to man. As they passed into and out of my hands I saw mashed potatoes, potato salad, green beans, collard greens, red beans, cabbage, fresh boiled okra, creamed corn, mac and cheese, carrots, squash and gravy and fresh rolls… and a couple of things I could not identify but tasted really good. At that point there was nothing left to do but dig in and eat… and we did.

I had totally forgotten that we were sitting across from three other guys and when I heard his voice I froze for a split second before looking up and when I did I was staring into the big blue eyes of “THE” big John Deacon. I just smiled and stood up as did he, and met him at the head of the table. Our right hands clasped in that familiar grip embracing each other with the other. It had been more than a year since I had seen him and other than looking like he had gained a few pounds, he looked exactly the same. Realizing, I suppose, that food was on the table and getting cold, he broke away abruptly and went back to his seat. As I sat down he reached across the table and greeted Larry, Richard, and Lane and introduced his two friends who were not members of the Fraternity. “I thought you were retired,” I said to him as he filled his mouth with a sizable fork full of food. He tried to answer but was waived off by everyone at the table at the sight of him trying to talk with a full mouth. One of his companions, Mark, replied that, “He was, but they brought him out of retirement so he could show Bill and I the territory.” Then John, making a big deal out of swallowing added, “Naaah, I am

just showing these fellers all the best places to eat.” Now, that is something I could believe for sure. “And I’ll bet you are sticking your two buddies with your lunch bill like you used to with me,” I shot at him. And as I said that, I could see the two heads on either side of him nodding in agreement. “He used to justify sticking me with buying his lunch,” I continued looking at Mark, “by telling me that the wisdom he was giving me was worth every penny.” And as I said that, the two turned to stare at John who flushed slightly but kept on eating.

Finally we all settled into just enjoying the meal. There wasn’t a lot of conversation except for requests for more of this or that every time a bowl or platter got emptied. I watched amazed at the mountain of chicken bones on the plate next to John. Every time a bowl or platter was emptied it was replaced immediately with another full one and usually it didn’t have time to actually touch the table before John grabbed it and forked, scooped, or poured the majority of its contents on his plate. Wow, some things never change. As I sat there watching John I realized with satisfaction how un-stressful this meal actually was, since I didn’t have to pay for John’s lunch and I wasn’t trying to meet a deadline on writing his words of wisdom in time to get it in a newsletter. So unless he was feeling particularly talkative, there would be no profound pontifications today… and that was ok with me.

Larry, seeing how much food was being consumed and the unique situation we were in and John sitting right across the table from us, elbowed me and whispered, “Wow, this would make a heck of a John Deacon article.” And he was right, but the key was and has always been, whether and what he has to say. Sometimes what he says is …unprintable and sometimes it is un- understandable and then other times it is just a lot of whining and moaning. The truth was that right now I was hoping he didn’t have anything to say. But time would tell as it looked like he was starting to get full. I know I felt like I was about to pop, so I pushed my plate away and leaned back and took a deep breath. John saw my discomfort and grinned and said, “You think you are done eating Brother Chris?” “No,” I answered, not even attempting to hide my pain. “I don’t just think I am done…I know I am done.” John, still grinning said, “Just wait.” And as he said those words the smell of something familiar floated across the table….something I really liked. And before I could say it out loud, four bowls of warm fresh homemade peach cobbler were laid on the table.

The first two bowls were empty before they left John’s hands and the next two were empty before they got to me. Then came two more and the third two bowls I grabbed one and Lane grabbed the other and between the two of us Larry and Richard finally got some cobbler too. Then once again silence descended and before it was over there were four more bowls of cobbler delivered to our table. I had two helpings and I was sure I was going to be sick from overeating, but all John could say was “Told you so.” But it was some of the best peach cobbler I have ever had.

I had eaten so much I thought I might lose consciousness. I couldn’t remember ever feeling as miserable as I did and at the same time satisfied by the awesome food, and when I glanced around it looked like everyone at the table was in the same shape I was. I remember my grandfather used to lean back in his chair after a big meal and say to no one in particular, “I think I feel a nap coming on.” I used to laugh at him when he would say that but now I know that he was a very wise man, however, a nap was not in my immediate future.

All of a sudden the silence was broken by the voice of my Brother John who all of a sudden felt it necessary to expound to all of us his view of life and the world about us. He announced to everyone within hearing that he was in the process of expanding his mind. And before I could stop it from coming out of my mouth I mumbled

something about, “that’s not the only thing that is expanding.” We all had to endure a ten second John Deacon glare while choking on our laughter, before he went on. He said that there is a lot of things that are happening around us that we do not realize or even think about. He said that we need to make our view a lot wider and not just see what is in front of us. He said that he had been reading a lot about Brother Manly P. Hall and that Brother Hall had stated that “It is said that wisdom lies not in seeing things, but in seeing through things.

“Daaaang Brother John,” I said approvingly. “You sound like you have turned into some kind of Mystic or something.” “Brother Chris,” he replied looking a little puzzled. “I don’t really know what a Miss Stick or even a Mr. Stick or any other kind of stick or whatever the heck you are trying to say is… all I really know is that I am looking at things a little bit different lately. It’s like things are sending me out a lot bigger messages than they ever have before.” Everyone was chuckling at his ‘Miss Stick/Mr. Stick’ reference and the guy sitting on his left decided to take it a step further and said to John, “Do you have to wear your little tin foil cap to tune in to all those messages?” And then he threw back his head a laughed out loud. When he opened his eyes there were four Brother Masons, not laughing, staring daggers at him. With a look of confusion and fear on his face the laughing abruptly stopped.

John looked directly at the three of us and said in a serious voice, “I want to tell you what happened last week in Lodge. We were about halfway through our Stated Meeting when the Worshipful Master stood up and said he needed to make an announcement. He said that the week before, one of the Lodge Brothers had given him a gift. Well right there I started to thinking that the middle of a stated Meeting might not be the best place to talk about something personal that happened between the Worshipful Master and another Brother. But it turned out that he had a good reason for sharing it with all of us. He said that the gift was something of considerable value and that he was very touched by the Brothers desire to present it to him. He said that the gift had a note accompanying it and the note basically said thanks for being a friend and mentor to him for many years and for all the things he had taught him. As he was telling us this, the Worshipful Master got a little emotional and had to clear his throat a couple of times. And it was then that he commenced to making his point. He said that it had never dawned on him that he was doing the things that the Brother was thanking him for and that it had made him realize that as Masons…. “we don’t realize sometimes what we do for others.” The Lodge got real quiet as all the Brothers there contemplated that statement”….and he grinned as he glanced at the three of us, “just like all of you are doing right now.”

“Now there was a time,” he continued, “when I would just take that statement as face value and not give it much thought, but this is the new and improved John.” We all snorted and shook our heads and quickly agreed that we saw nothing new or improved across the table from us and we told him so. He glared and ignored us and went on with his story. “On the way home that night I couldn’t stop thinking about what the Worshipful Master had said. I started thinking about how important it is that we as Masons commit ourselves to being good men and to doing the right thing and without realizing it, our conduct probably does have an effect on those around us. Heck, if you belong to an organization that says to everyone that we take good men and make them better, people are probably going to be eyeballing us to see if we are who we say we are. As I was driving down that road, I recollected a time I read a paper where it pretty much proved that this great country was created based upon the principles and teachings of this Fraternity and yet there was no mention anywhere of our Fraternity as having anything to do with the founding of this country. History also fails to mention that almost all the major newspapers in the colonies at the time were owned and operated by

Masons nor is it written in any historical account of the founding of our Country that a large percentage of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and those who wrote the constitution as well as those who were the leaders of our Federal government were our Brother Freemasons.”

“I think that most of us at this table would agree with that, John,” I interrupted, having forgotten the perils of doing so. “But how does that have anything to do with your story about your Worshipful Master?” There was a silence…a too long silence…an uncomfortable silence accompanied by John’s death stare. I had forgotten how bad John hated to be interrupted and I have found that the best thing to do is just be silent till he gets his thoughts back together because that usually takes a little while.

Finally he got it together and continued as if he had never stopped, “The point is…my pain in the rear Brother Chris, that since there was no evidence anywhere that our Masonic Fraternity organized or led the revolution and yet the facts are there that our Country was in fact founded on Masonic principles, then it follows that the Masons of the thirteen colonies, and there were very few of them, by communicating and living those principles and tenets, influenced not only the revolution but also the writing of our constitution and the formation of the government. And therein lies my point and it is in the words that the Worshipful Master spoke. ‘We really don’t realize what we do for others’ or how much living our lives as true Masons influences those around us. And that is something we need to think about every day.” And then he shut up and let us contemplate in silence what he had just said. Naaaah, that’s not true. Actually he noticed a small bit of peach cobbler left in the bottom of one of the bowls and proceeded to scrape a couple of layers of paint off the bowl trying to get that last molecule out of it. But it did silence us and make us think. Even the two non- Masons at the table were left speechless.

As I sat there allowing the warm feeling of his words wash over us, it occurred to me that any good things that we do or any good things that others see in us that would influence them to emulate us, has to come as a result of not just being a member of this Fraternity, but by BEING a Mason and also understanding what a Mason really is and what Masonry is really about. Only then can Masons and Masonry have a real effect on people and society.

The name “Freemason” is not enough. There are way too many named (and many come to mind as I sat there) organizations and groups whose actions are contrary to what their name or stated purpose implies. The name means nothing unless the actions meet or exceed it. The majority of things that we do, we do without thinking about them and as such are the products of the good men that we are, but those times that we come to that fork in the road where we are challenged to do something different or react in a different way than most people would; those are the times that show the world the true meaning of being a Freemason. John’s worshipful master obviously had been a great example of Masonry to his Brother and I expect that he was the same everywhere.

I snapped back into the present at the sound of dishes clattering and not surprisingly John was busy making sure there was nothing left in any. On my left Larry announced that we needed to get back on the road and he was right. We had taken a lot longer than we planned for lunch. I asked for the bill but the lady clearing off the table informed us that there was none and to just go to the register.

I do not know how I managed to pull myself to my feet….it sure wasn’t easy…but it was gratifying to see that I wasn’t the only one with that problem. I was the first to stagger to the cashier and I started to tell her what I had eaten and she ignored me and simply said, “Ten dollars” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had my wallet in my hands and as I opened it I asked, “Ten Dollars?” It was obvious that she didn’t have the time or

patience to explain it to me as she reached into my opened wallet and deftly extracted a ten dollar bill slide it into the register and thank me all in the same motion. All the guys were in line behind me and it was apparent that everyone thought I was shocked by how inexpensive the meal was, however the truth was that I was angry. “How could you be angry,” you say? I was angry for several reasons. I was angry because of all the lunches I had endured with John that he had eaten enough food for four grown men and stuck me with the check. I was angry that here I was at the same lunch with John Deacon and all he had eaten was only going to cost his two groupies ten lousy dollars. Wow, I needed to get on the road and cool off. I got out to my truck and before I could open the door, I was stopped in my tracks by the booming voice of the John as he ran across the parking lot to my truck. He was pretty winded having run about 30 feet and I thought he might have a heart attack as he reached out and grabbed me in one of those smothering John Deacon bear hugs.

“I haven’t seen you for over a year my Brother pardner. Let’s not make it so long next time. Well I forgot about being angry and said, “I agree, John” and hugged him back even though I couldn’t come close to getting my arms around what can only be described as his equator. I am sure there were people who were scandalized watching two grown men hug….but there is a lot of meaning in a Masonic embrace. And that is all I am going to say about that… Sitting in my truck waiting for Larry to go in front of me I watched John haul his humongous -ness into the driver’s seat of Ol Blackie and I smiled at his name for that big black truck. And as he roared off down the road …..I was angry again about that dang ten dollars. I hope I can get over that before I see him again. Until next time…y’all be safe.

Masonic Genealogy

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Two Fellowcraft Degrees at S. P. Waltrip #1328

 

                    S. P. Waltrip #1328
               Two Fellowcraft Degrees
        
Tuesday evening October 18, 2011
Dinner at 6:15 pm,  Degrees start at 7:00 pm

                  http://www.spwaltrip.org

Wallace Hughston Lodge #1393 Traveling Apron

 Brethren:

 

Wallace Hughston Lodge 1393 started a traveling Apron a year ago, and would like to know where is has traveled.

 

Please leave an message on the Grand Lodge page or email us at

 

jwalker15@wildblue.net

 

Br. James Walker PM FDDGM

Secretary

Wallace Hughston Lodge

 

Install Bowie Lodge 578

Bowie Lodge 578 will install Lodge Officers July 16, 2011 for the 2011-2012 year.  Eat at 6 p.m.  Installation at 7 p.m.