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Masonic Philosophy 101 and the Breakfast Tacos of Champions

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV, Staff Writer

The noise was so loud that it felt like my head was going to explode.  I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Suddenly something hit me in the back…..hard…….that’s when I woke up from a sound sleep.  It was the phone ringing and the blow to the middle of my back came from Pam followed by an order to “ANSWER THE PHONE”!!!

There wasn’t time enough to focus and read the caller ID so I when my hand finally found the handset I just pressed the button.  That was my first mistake of the day. The second was that I didn’t just hang it up right then. I still wasn’t awake all the way, and the voice sounded familiar.

He was talking way too loud and way too fast…

“Halloos Brother Chris, I thought I would catch you on your way to work and see if we could have breakfast.”  By the time he finished the first sentence my mind had cleared, I had glanced at the clock and had realized it was John Deacon.

“What the heck are you calling me at…….I looked again at the clock……oh my God John it’s 4:30 in the morning,” I yelled into the phone causing another blow to my back and a different order.  “Are you crazy? It’s too early to even have breakfast.”

“Awwww quit whining, my Brother,” he said.  “I need some direction. I am hungry and I need to know where to go.”

By this time having been rudely awakened, sarcasm and anger were starting to kick in and I flatly said, “I’ll tell you where you can go.” And before I could relay that special destination to him, one more blow landed to my back with an admonition, “be nice”. Grrrr, in my then condition being nice was not my first choice. I realized that I was not going to win this with the enemy on both sides, so I took a deep breath and told him to meet me at Bill Millers in 30 minutes. I heard him whining about not wanting BBQ for breakfast as I hung up. He would find out in a few minutes that Bill Millers has pretty darn good breakfast tacos. I know because I have one almost every morning of the year.

 I hurried through my shower and when I got to the restaurant, John was already inside. They had just opened up and were heating the food up as he stood there looking at the menu smacking his lips. As I walked up next to him, I smiled at Sarah who knows me as “potato, egg, and cheese taco, with an unsweetened iced tea refill” cause that’s what I get every day.

She already had my taco and drink ready and nodded to John and got a questioning expression on her face. I told her that he was becoming “one” with the menu and he would speak at some point. “He has been staring at the menu for several minutes,” she said. “I thought he had fallen asleep.” “Nope, he’s not asleep,” I answered. He is just coming up with a plan.”

Without taking his eyes off the menu he growled, “You know, I can hear you both. And neither of you are funny.” And then looking down at Sarah he began to order. “Since my Brother Chris is buying breakfast, I think I will have three of those potato, egg, and cheese tacos.  I also want three carne guisada with cheese.  I just have to try a couple of sausage and egg and a couple of bacon and egg, and add about four bean and cheese for later and I will be in good shape…..and I will have some tea also.”

“I don’t think that good shape is something you ought to worry about Brother John unless you consider watermelon a good shape.” As he glared at me, I silently calculated in my mind and as best as I could figure, he was getting ready to consume along with generous portions of sausage, bacon, potatoes, beans, and carne guisada, at least a dozen eggs and a dozen tortillas.  Heck, that wasn’t breakfast, it was a whole week’s worth of groceries.

Sarah handed us our drinks and called out the cavalry to get busy on making tacos. When they were done it took two trays to haul it all out to our table and one for the tacos and one for all the hot sauce and pico de gallo to put on everything. For those of you dear readers who are out of the country, Texas, that is; “pico de gallo or peck of the rooster” is fresh jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, all mixed together.  I looked across the table at the mountain of breakfast tacos and heard John ooohing and aaahing over how good it all tasted, and realized he was going to be a while and called Leonard to tell him I was going to be a little late.  

I was not going to be dragged out of bed this early by John and not get something to put in the newsletter, even if I had to force it out of him. The morning crowd was filing in to get their tacos and John’s pile attracted a lot of attention. I just kept my head down and avoided eye contact and waited. Soon he was done, and I informed him that it was rude to wake someone up as early as he did me without a day’s prior warning.  He told me he had a big meeting early that morning and had gotten to town the night before and spent the night and woke up hungry.  I listened closely, but never got anything that remotely resembled an apology so I just shook my head and moved on.  “I hope you have something really good for me this month,” I said evenly. “And you need to start talking because I have to get to work.” “Well,” he said. I don’t have much but one thing has been making me think since it happened.” I groaned …the day looked like it was going to get worse. I leaned back and motioned for him to bring it on.

He took a deep breath and began, “On our way out of Lodge after our last Stated Meeting several Brothers had congregated just inside the front door.  Among them were a newly passed Fellowcraft and his instructor. The instructor was sharing with the group that the new Fellowcraft had been trying to assign a meaning or symbolism to every word and phrase in the degrees and laughingly made everyone think that the Brother was wearing him out with all the questions.  The new Brother was enjoying the joke and as I walked up, he turned to me and asked what could possibly be the meaning behind one of the questions asked in the esoteric work of his first degree.  The question concerned how he knew there was a door blocking his path.  And the answer verifies the fact by reminding that at first, he could not proceed and later on he could.  In true amateur shrink form I asked him what he thought it meant. Due to his short time as a Mason, he could come up with nothing that told him why this particular part of his degree and the question and answer pertaining to it was important.

After a few moments of the group waiting for my answer, and none of the others offering an opinion, I told him, “I believe that, because you were in the dark at the time, that it was to impress upon you that entrance into a Lodge was not something automatic or easy. That there were tests to pass, promises to be made, and passwords to be given before you would be trusted with the knowledge and beauty to be found on the other side of that door.”

I waited a couple of seconds for a response but nothing was offered, just a few nods and a far off look in the eyes of the student.  I left them contemplating my answer, and as I drove home, I got to thinking about the Brother attempting to make sense out of all that had happened to him.  I acknowledged sadly that way too many Brothers new and old not only have no desire to, but have never even made the attempt to understand or make sense out of the lessons they are given.  Many others take a literal view of all that was taught them, and with only a basic understanding of their working tools are perfectly content with working at just a basic level of Masonry and many times reject the deeper philosophical study and discovery.

This rejection is not necessarily because they are not interested in the deeper meanings; rather it is often times because of something that I read a few years ago.  In a book that was explaining some of the deeper meanings, there was a phrase that stuck in my mind and it is the reason, I think, that many Masons don’t dig into the deeper meanings and mysteries of the Craft. The phrase was…… “Always in new knowledge we meet new intellectual frustrations because, every answer searched for and found, creates new questions”. “Oh wow, “I blurted out without realizing it.  “That’s absolutely true ….and it IS frustrating sometimes. But still, it’s all good.”

“Like I said, he snarled at me, obviously irritated that I threw my own opinion in there, “it’s not that they aren’t interested in the deeper meanings and philosophy…. in many cases they don’t have the time to continue searching for more and more answers.”  I nodded vigorously but didn’t interrupt as he rolled on, “This old world has changed so much in just one generation from a time when people actually had time for reflection, and time to read and study, to a world that is moving so fast, it is all but impossible to keep up. The men of this generation, and women, are growing their families in a time where their children are involved in sometimes two and three or more activities outside the school and church. Both husband and wife are being pulled in many, many different directions every minute of every day.  We are asking men, good men, our Brothers, to spend time…time that most of them don’t have, in thoughtful reflection, in study of their lessons, and in search of new meanings and truths within themselves.  And we are disappointed in them because they don’t seem to be spending enough of that time. Well, I assure you that they are more disappointed than we are, because they can’t. If there ever was a case for a strong Masonic Education program in our Lodges, this is it.

I am not sure that this will explain it properly so it can be clearly understood, but Masonry is like an engine in a car.  It has many different parts and systems and if the engine is to run the way it is supposed to, all the parts have to do what they are supposed to, when they are supposed to.”  I must have looked like I was not getting what he was saying because he frowned and said with an exasperated voice, “Brother Chris, I used the engine analogy to make sure you understood it.  You run an Auto shop, for God’s sake. It ought to be easy for you.” 

“You need to climb about two steps down off my rear end, there Brother,” I shot back at him. “I was getting it just fine, just waiting for you to make your point.”

He shook his head slightly as if I was full of it, and continued, “Like I was saying, I see Masonry as an intricate combination of words, symbols, emotions, AND timing.  All the different parts are equal in importance to the “engine” running properly, including the timing.  When a man petitions a Lodge for the degrees the engine starts.  As the process works its way through the reading, investigation, and then the ballot, the engine gains RPMs.  You understand RPMs, don’t you?” He said with a sarcastic grin.

As I fought the urge to reach across the table and beat him vigorously about his head and shoulders, he continued, “Then he is initiated into the Lodge, and with the engine Proms getting higher he learns his work and becomes a Fellowcraft, learns that work, and finally is raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, and then learns his Masters work.  Our new Brother has now learned all the fundamentals and is now ready to begin his personal journey of self- improvement and self -discovery. Now that engine is really cruising and running perfectly, just the way it was meant to run.  But, right about now is when things start breaking down.  That valuable part of that engine called time, malfunctions.  More often than not, the new Master Mason comes to the distressing realization that he is on his own from this point forward. He probably was never given a learned Brother to be his mentor. His instructor who may have mentored him to a certain extent, has other students to teach or may only have the questions and answers to give and not the meanings and now seems to not have any time for him. He attends meetings in hopes of finding that light he was told would be available to him. Instead, he has to listen to the usual motions and reports and a word by word reading of minutes of the last meeting which he sees as redundant since he was at that previous meeting and heard all of it then. He understands that business is part of the meeting but continues to hope for more knowledge of the Craft. He sits through other degrees hoping for things to become clearer all the while wishing he had the time to read and study, knowing that with his obligations to his job and his family that attending Lodge meetings is all his schedule will allow. While he enjoys the fellowship of his Brethren, the reasons why he became a Mason, the promise of deeper moral and spiritual truths and finding an understanding of his inner self does not seem to be a possibility.  The rpm’s of his engine have dropped significantly, and soon, feeling unfulfilled and maybe a bit taken advantage of, he allows himself to be drawn into other things and stops coming to Lodge.  He may continue to pay his dues out of a feeling of duty or obligation to something once believed in, but his growth as a Mason ultimately stopped as soon as he was raised. What I am trying to make you understand, Brother Chris, and what all of our Brethren need to understand, is that timing is very, very important and that a Brother’s journey must proceed immediately after his being made a Master Mason, and that the lack of Masonic education being given in the Lodges and especially at stated meetings effectively stops Brothers from growing within our Craft system and renders all of Masonry ignorant of its true mission and purpose.  Men do not become better men just because of the three degrees. Those teach the fundamentals, introduce them to the tools of their new trade, and provide a few basic examples of how to use them. They provide a basic education for a lifetime course of study and discovery, and to deny all Brothers the higher education we promised them is to make Masonry nothing more than a social supper club with a rather dramatic and interesting entrance requirement, instead of a rite of passage and transformation leading to a lifelong journey of building his inner being for the service of God, Family, Self, and all of Mankind.  This is why so many believe that Masonry has become irrelevant in this day and age, because we say that we do all these great things for men ………but we don’t. Maybe that is one of the reasons why many of our brethren are afraid to talk about the Fraternity, maybe deep down they see the contradiction between what we are supposed to be doing and what we really do.  I see more and more Brothers whose engines have broken down from lack of maintenance and neglect, disillusioned by finding out that what they were promised in Masonry and what they hoped for by being made a Mason, was instead a fraternity that had forgotten its purpose, had forsaken it’s duty……and had lost its way, and was now wandering in the wilderness possibly towards that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns.”

He stopped and I was still writing on my napkin. I had forgotten my recorder and figured if I got the high points, I could fill in the middle later. My hand was shaking as I wrote. Dang, they were all high points and this was really good stuff. I looked up at John and I said, “I know you don’t use bad language Brother John, but I have to say, DANG, that was good. I didn’t know you had that in you.”

He had been looking off in the distance and that word brought him back. He smiled and said, “I will allow you that one, my Brother because I know how you are.”  I wondered what the heck he meant by that as he slid out of his chair and announced that he had to get on down the road to his appointment. I was ready to go too.  I waved at Sarah and the crew who were still in shock from all John had eaten. I followed him out to his truck and realized that the extra tacos he had ordered for the road he had already eaten. He shrugged and said that he would just have to get a snack later. I just laughed and shook my head and told him thanks for the material for the newsletter, shook his giant hand, and watched him roar out of the parking lot in a cloud of dust. On my way to work I got to thinking about that new Fellowcraft who was trying to figure it all out and I hoped that he continued to search for meaning in all that he experienced, but also that he wouldn’t stop at just the most obvious meanings. To do that would be to miss the real reward and beauties waiting for only those who are determined to find the most profound truths and the answers to life’s most hidden mysteries. Until we next meet….I wish you all well.

Just A Bunch Of Leftovers, And How It Really Feels

 By James C. “Chris” Williams IV – Staff Writer

I knew I was taking a chance sending him a text when I did it. John is self admittedly an electronically challenged person. In fact, he is one of the few people I have ever been around who, if every cell phone, fax machine, and computer, suddenly disappeared, he would be back on an equal level with most of the population……and a very happy man. Nevertheless, I had kind of a goofy plan….half thought out, I admit, but the half that was thought out sounded pretty good to me, partly because it was going to save me a lot of money and partly because it was going to ingratiate me with Pam. Of course, if he never saw my text and never responded, the whole plan would be a failure, but I texted him the co-ordinates anyway…..and I waited.
I figure that about now you are waiting for me to give you some explanation, so here it is. John had called a couple of days before and told me approximately when he would be in town and for me to decide on a good place to eat. It was the day he was arriving and I still hadn’t decided on where to go. I walked in the kitchen and saw that Pam was standing in front of the refrigerator shaking her head. I heard her mutter something about throwing everything away and starting over. I looked over her shoulder and realized that it was so jam packed full of leftovers that there was no place to put anything else. And, there was no way to tell what was there because everything was inside a Styrofoam or plastic container. That’s when the plan started taking shape. I went out to the garage and got the big Yeti cooler and told Pam that I was going to get rid of all the leftovers for her. She gave me a “you are crazy” look and shook her head and walked away. With my Mom’s voice in my mind telling me to not waste food because there were kids starving in other countries, I crammed that cooler completely full with every size and kind of container imaginable, and with a little ice on top, loaded it up into the truck and waited for the time for us to meet. I knew that nothing would go bad inside that Yeti that wasn’t already bad. It is my opinion that there has not yet been invented a food that John Deacon does not like. So whatever was inside that Yeti cooler should be something he would eat…….I hoped. What I didn’t think about was whether or not I would like any of it… it was one of those details I failed to think through.
What I texted John were the co-ordinates of a little spot on one of my Lodge Brother’s ranch north of San Antonio that I am quite partial to. If there is one thing John does know how to use (because he was on the road all the time) it is the navigation device that came with his truck when he bought it. The co-ordinates I gave him were to a little meadow surrounded by pretty old and large oak trees. On one side of the meadow is a creek that flows year round and on the opposite side is a sheer cliff that rises a hundred feet up from the base of the meadow. Trees and rock formations along with all kinds of other vegetation cover the cliff and I don’t think I have ever looked up at it and seen the same thing twice… and the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves on the Live Oaks and the sound of the water flowing over the rocks in the creek are about the most relaxing sounds I have ever experienced. Even better, is that right in the middle of the meadow are laid out, log benches complete with officers stations, resembling a Masonic Lodge Room. I needed to clean it up a bit for a degree that we had planned in a few weeks, and it just so happened that his needing to see me on this day and me needing to do a little maintenance on our outdoor degree site, along with needing to do something with the leftovers, all came together in a plan to take care of all three at the same time.
To my surprise and satisfaction he actually texted me back and agreed to meet where I suggested (I love it when a plan comes together). I made sure I got there in plenty of time to set up a little (although very strong) aluminum table and two oversize chairs. I had a couple of plates and some plastic-ware on the table and some condiments that I had grabbed at the last minute. I didn’t know if they were going to be needed but it seemed like the right thing to do. A gallon of tea that I drove through Bill Millers to get, rounded out what I hoped would be a satisfactory (and cheap) lunch with John. I figured if everything in the cooler was good enough for Pam, the nieces and the granddaughters to eat, it was certainly good enough for John and me…….I hoped. With everything ready, I sat down to await the arrival of Big John…..the Sultan of snacks……the Chieftain of chow…..the Lion of Lunch….the…..well ….you get the picture.
It wasn’t long that I began to hear a faint sound that got closer and louder really quick. I looked up in time to see that big black truck of his roaring across the clearing toward me at a higher rate of speed than was prudent for that place. As I was just about to run for cover, he slid to a stop in a cloud of dust. Instead of getting out of the truck he just sat there looking around. I waited for a couple of minutes and finally walked over to the driver’s door and spread my arms apart like, “what the heck are you doing”? I could see him still looking all around as he rolled his window down a fraction of an inch and said, “I must have ticked off a bunch of bees back up the road a ways and they came after me. Are they gone?” “ John,” I said trying to keep the aggravation out of my voice. “Get out of the truck. There are no bees here.” As he slid down and followed me, still looking around, I muttered just loud enough for him to hear, “They probably know you have to come back by them on the way out and are waiting for you.” I heard him say, “WHAT???” …. I ignored him but I know that got him to thinking because he kept looking back down the road every few minutes.
“Why in devil did you make me come way out here in the middle of nowhere,” he growled. “It’s probably at least forty five minutes to the nearest eating place from here.” “I needed to clean a little on our outdoor degree site, and you were in town and if you brought something for the February article, then this will all work out good and surely there won’t be any distractions. And, I brought the lunch out here,” I replied.
I opened up the tailgate of my truck and sat the tea on the table and a couple of big cups and proceeded to take all the containers one by one out of the cooler. When the last container was on the table, I handed him some utensils and told him to dig in. He hesitated and said, “This looks like just a bunch of leftovers.” I laughed and replied, “It is leftovers, and I don’t even know what’s in each of those containers. It’s a surprise.” The moment of truth was at hand as he reached for, with a frown on his face, one of the larger (go figure) containers. Inside it, to my shock, looked to me like a fully cooked T-bone steak. Then I remembered that a couple of weeks before, we had grilled some steaks for a Sunday family get together and I forgot that we hadn’t eaten all of them. John had hit the jackpot right off and reached for another which contained some kind of beans. He seemed to, at the moment, be enjoying this surprise lunch so I reached for a container for myself. I opened the lid and I would have bet my paycheck that what I was looking at could not be classified as belonging to any one of the four major food groups. I was not even sure it was meant to be eaten at all. Surely it had come from a restaurant that one of my nieces had visited. John saw me staring apprehensively at the contents and reached across the table and took it. I could tell that he didn’t know what it was either, but he sniffed it once and apparently decided it wasn’t going to kill him and took a taste. To this day I still don’t know what it was, but I do know that John liked it because he ate every bite of it. I reached for another container and got a large leftover helping of macaroni and cheese and another which had something that looked like chicken. It tasted like chicken, but it could have been anything because we all know that almost everything tastes like chicken. I saw John reach out for another big container. When he opened it he made a face and slid it back. Curious about what food John would possibly reject, I opened it to take a look. I have no idea what it was, but whatever it was contained two different items and it looked like one was eating the other. With John nodding his approval, it went right into the garbage bag I brought for our trash.
As John reached for another surprise, I asked him how he liked being out in the meadow. That got me a look of surprise and confusion as he chewed. He swallowed and said, “What kind of crazy question is that, Brother Chris? “ This is what my Dad used to call the boondocks….as in out in the middle of nowhere.” “ Well,” I said looking around. “This is one of my favorite places. It’s calm and relaxing and the sounds of the trees and the water are like soft music playing.” He rolled his eyes and grabbed another container and happily found a couple of fried chicken legs. He took a bite out of one and grunted his approval as he sat back and looked around at the countryside while I talked. I didn’t know if he had grunted his approval of the chicken legs or what I was talking about so I kept on talking, “I come out here sometimes to just sit and close my eyes and think about stuff. It is so far out of the way that you don’t have to worry about anyone or anything interrupting you.” He nodded agreement as he grabbed another container in which he found left over pot roast complete with potatoes, carrots, and some gravy, which I knew was really tasty even cold. I sure wish I had grabbed that one and he knew it by the look in my eyes as he smiled and took another big bite. I realized that I hadn’t eaten much and grabbed at one of the last containers left just as he did. I managed to slide it out from under his huge paw over to my side of the table. I cautiously peeked inside and to my surprise there were four leftover cheese enchiladas Pam had made a few days before. John herded the remaining three containers over to his side. As he opened each one, he smiled his satisfaction and had them gone in no time. There being no more food available he sat back to wait for me to finish eating.
As he sat there leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes for a few seconds and began to see a change come over him. It was at first barely noticeable, but soon it was obvious that something had changed. He gazed at the trees and then across to the bluff on the other side. He glanced over at our outdoor makeshift Lodge room and smiled. It was a smile to no one in particular, but a reaction to what he was thinking. It was just John and his thoughts. I think he actually had totally forgotten I was there. I didn’t know what he was seeing in his mind, but I carefully, without him knowing it, pushed the “on” switch on my recorder and waited…..hoping he might put some of those thoughts into words. I didn’t have to wait long. The breeze in the trees and the soothing sounds of the water had worked their magic and made John’s thoughts turn into words and those words just came flowing out. He had been looking at the make-shift Lodge room and just began talking. “I remember the night I was made a Mason,” he said. A Brother had told me beforehand that when I was done with my first initiation, that I would go home that night a different man…….the same….but different. I wondered how the heck he knew that…but, I found out a couple of hours later that he was right. I was the same….but different. I went home that night, my big head and heart filled with something great and wonderful that I couldn’t completely explain. I had to get a little older and wiser to figure it out.” I really wanted to ask him what it was he figured out, but there was no way I was going to interrupt his thoughts. I was just glad I had thought to turn on the recorder. I saw a smile form on his face as he continued, “I remember looking up into the face of my new Brother as he shined new light into me. I was like a young child eager to receive any and all knowledge and the eagerness and desire to learn instilled in me that night….has never gone away. And, every time I have had the honor of being the one dispensing light, I have never forgotten how I felt that first night and how important it is to make sure that when I transform a good man from a Mister into a Brother, that the experience lasts a lifetime, and that his eagerness to receive light never goes away.” He was still looking at the outdoor Lodge and it seemed as if he was in some kind of trance as he continued, “The night I was raised, it became clear to me that I could never go back to being my old self. There was no old self to go back to, everything had changed, and every perception had changed. Every thought and every action would now be judged and re-judged by myself using some kind of Masonic filter for quality. Being satisfied by the status quo would never again be acceptable. The need to push for good and better and for truth would always be there.”
He paused for a few seconds and I thought he was done. As he continued to look at the outdoor Lodge room I saw his eyes get a little misty as another memory, this a sad one, made its way into his consciousness. He swallowed heavily and I had to lean a little closer to hear him as he said just above a whisper, “Being more in tune with all people and their troubles in life, especially our Brothers and families, that being part of our teachings, has made me angry at times. Death and having to deal with it was uncomfortable, but I learned a great lesson when one of my Brothers was fighting cancer. I went to visit him right after a series of tests were done and they had just wheeled his bed back into his room. He held out his hand to me and I grasped it as he lay there, and I looked into his eyes as he shook his head slightly to tell me that all hope was gone and that his time was almost over. As I stood there hurting inside for him, thinking how unfair it all was, he smiled and I could see that he wasn’t afraid or angry at all and that he was ready to make this new journey, to take his place next to his creator. He was a Freemason who had learned his lessons well and knew that his greatest glory was ahead of, and not behind him. At his memorial service I couldn’t help smiling, knowing that he was continuing his journey into the light.”
He paused to take a breath and something caught in my throat and I gasped. I don’t know if it was emotion or….. oh heck, who was I kidding…..? I know it was emotion and I just couldn’t help it, but that sound had brought him out of his thoughts and I was mad at myself for causing it. He didn’t seem to mind though, because he just smiled and lucky for me he wasn’t done yet. He said, “Brother Chris, I have been blessed to have been able to be a part of many Masonic ceremonies and honoring many worthy Brothers. I have looked into the eyes of a Brother who I was privileged to honor with a 60-year service award from our Grand Lodge. As I spoke the mandated words of praise and thanks to him for being a Mason for 60 plus years, I began to understand that giving the award was as fulfilling as receiving it. Looking into his shining eyes there was a connection to him through Masonry that I could not have imagined. For those sitting on the sidelines watching, it was a great honor for the recipient……but they had no idea of the profound feeling of pride that awarding it to him gave me, and it made me more aware and gave me a greater understanding of the length and strength of what we Masons refer to as our mystic tie.” He stopped talking all of a sudden and was gazing around him. “Wow, John,” I said. “You have really lived your Masonry.” “Brother Chris,” he whispered. It’s about more than just Masonry. Masonry is but a part of the whole. It’s about knowing and understanding. It’s about feeling and being aware of the presence. It’s about taking control by letting go.” “ Wait a minute,” I exclaimed… suddenly seeing what was in front of me the whole time. “You are talking about Him, aren’t you? You are talking about the Great Architect of the Universe. You have seen Him.” “ Yes, my Brother,” he said with a knowing smile. “I am talking about God. And yes, I have seen Him…..I have talked to Him…..or more importantly He has talked to me.” “ Tell me about Him, what does He look like,” I asked anxiously? John laughed and said, “It is not about what He looks like….it’s about who He is and what He is. He is you and He is me. He is this beautiful meadow and the trees and the water. He is everywhere and He is right here…. right now. When you let His presence and His influence take you by the hand, the result is always good.
Thank you for bringing me out here where it is so relaxing. It makes me begin to realize and understand things I hadn’t before. The Great Architect…..God…., or whatever you or anyone wants to call Him has given me many things. He has given me eyes to see what I could not before. He has taken away all fear. He has given me strength to speak when I would not or could not before. He has given me all these things and much more. Moreover, He has given or stands ready to give to you and anyone all these things and more. It was no coincidence that your leftovers, and this place came together with you and I today, and no matter who you give the credit to, it was something we both needed.”
He was right of course and I told him so. I also told him that I had recorded the whole thing and I would erase it if he wanted. He laughed and said, “I saw your recorder sitting there and figured you were getting it all. I don’t want what I said to ruffle any feathers, but it’s just not very logical that people think that God is only found in church or in a holy book. He is everywhere and in everything and I sometimes see him in my mind’s eye, looking around at what we have done with him, and to him, and because of him, and I know he’s not happy with all of it. If you want to use it, I am okay with it. I am not ashamed of it.” With that, he got up and headed to his truck. I grabbed something out of my truck and followed him. As he swung his big frame up into his truck, I handed him two slices of pecan pie that I got when I bought the tea at Bill Millers. That apparently made his day as he hauled his rotund rear end out of the truck to give me a big John Deacon bear hug, and then he was gone in a cloud of dust. I was in no hurry and sat down to enjoy my pie and in the quiet and stillness of that beautiful place broken only by the rustle of leaves and the soothing sound of water lightly slapping the rocks, I swear I could feel it…I could feel Him………….

Peanuts On The Floor And The Wisdom Of Brother Bill

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV – Staff Writer

You know how sometimes you are working or doing chores or, whatever and something or someone will pop into your mind and shortly thereafter that person will come walking in the door? Well it’s happened to me before and in fact it happened last week. I was at work and all of a sudden John popped into my mind. I tried real hard to put him out of my mind but he wouldn’t leave …… Ha! Kinda like him being here in person. Anyway I was wondering about what had happened between him and his boss last month. I remember he was worried about their meeting. I sure hoped he didn’t get laid off because his job was the only reason he came down our way every month. What was I going to do if he didn’t show up every month………. hmmmm ……..

As I was mulling the pluses and the minuses the front door flew open and there he was. “Helloooooooo Fellers”, he bellowed with his arms spread wide like he was addressing his subjects. “It is I, your Brother John. I can go no further. I must eat.” Roger looked over at me and said, “I think he is looking for you.” “Don’t yell so loud,” I said. “You’re scaring all the customers.” “Oh man, I’m sorry,” he apologized as he looked around quickly, “Hey, wait a minute….. there’s no customers in here.”

I guess that answered my question about his meeting with his boss last month. He was way too happy for a man who had been laid off his job. “So what happened at your meeting last month,” I asked. “I was a little worried about you.” “Brother Chris, you are not going to believe this,” he said. “He wanted to tell me what a good job I was doing and he wanted to ask me about becoming a Mason. He said that when I talk about the Lodge and being a Mason he can tell how proud I that am to be one. He said it seems to be the source of all my energy”

“I could have told him that was wrong,” I butted in sarcastically. “The source of your energy is all that food you eat.” “I am not going to even dignify that with a response,” he said giving me a cold stare. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Roger with his head down laughing as silently as he could. “I’m being serious here Brother,” he said. “When he said that to me, I told him that the energy actually came from a higher source but that energy along with the principals and teachings in Masonry are what makes me the man that I am.

Brother Chris it’s a good feeling when someone wants to be a Mason because of who you are.” I had lost the sarcasm and I noticed that Roger had stopped laughing and I could tell he had liked what John said. “Brother John, that was good,” I said. “I have to agree with your boss.”
“Well now that you are done being a smart aleck,” he demanded. “Take me to eat before I have to get violent. I have a lot to tell you.” “OK, Ok calm down,” I said, “I am going to take you to the Texas Road House.” He said, “I have never been there before so quit talking and let’s go.

We apparently showed up at a bad time cause the place was packed and several people were waiting for tables. We ended up only having to wait about 10 minutes before we were escorted to a booth. All the way to the table John was checking out all the peanut shells on the floor and made a comment to the hostess as we were sitting down that somebody ought to do some sweeping up. She smiled sweetly and informed him that there were peanuts in the buckets on the table and he was allowed to throw the shells on the floor.

I didn’t think it was that big of a deal but he was like a kid in a candy store. He grabbed a handful of peanuts out of the bucket and began popping them open and eating them one after another. After each shell was empty he ceremoniously flipped it out and watched its travel path all the way to the floor.

He soon realized that having a mouthful of nuts and nothing to wash them down with is not good. He began to frantically look around for a server and finally began waving wildly hoping to attract someone’s attention which only served to annoy the two ladies in the booth behind us. I waved at them and apologized as a guy stopped in front of our table and announced he was going to be our server. I noticed that his badge identified him as Tony, the store manager, and I asked him why the manager was going to be taking care of us. He said that it was very busy and two servers had not shown up for their shift so he had to fill in. John was trying unsuccessfully to push out some words but all I heard was gibberish. His face was getting red and he was staring at me with disgust in his eyes. I told Tony, “I think he has had too many nuts and needs something to drink.” Immediately John began nodding and grunting in agreement. I ordered two iced teas and Tony went to get them. John was still staring bullets at me when Tony showed up with our drinks and he grabbed his and gulped down about half of the glass before he paused to take a breath.

Tony watched him with amused indifference and asked if we were ready to order and I said we were. He asked if it was going to be on 1 or 2 tickets and simultaneously we pointed at each other. Tony rolled his eyes and said, “Figure it out guys. I don’t have all day.” I was starting to think that I didn’t like Tony’s attitude much, considering he didn’t know how much money this table was about to make him.

John said, “Wait a minute Brother Chris, I paid for all my stuff last month at the Fiesta.” To which I replied, “Yeah but the month before I had to pay the Chinese lady for two extra meals just so she would stop yelling at you. He looked at me for a few seconds then at Tony and said, It ain’t fair but I guess I am buying this month. I quickly ordered the T-Bone Steak Salad with extra Ranch Dressing. John was still looking at the menu and finally looked up and said, “I’ll have two of them T-Bone Steak Salads and then I will have that Porter House Steak cooked medium well and don’t even think about bringing it out here bleeding all over the place. Put a baked potato next to it with all the fixins you can find and you better bring us some of those hot rolls before the smell drives me crazy. And one more thing there pardner, can you fill up this here bucket of peanuts?

Tony was shaking his head in disbelief as he turned towards the kitchen. “I sure do like these nuts Brother Chris,” John said as he grabbed another handful. Tony brought a full bucket and took away the empty one that John had finished. As we were waiting for our lunches we made small talk about the weather and the price of gas and such and I noticed that there was a good sized pile of peanut shells building up next to our table. I could actually hear the loud crunching as people passed our booth.

Pretty soon our lunch arrived needing three people to carry it all and as usual his plates took up most of the table. John lapsed into his usual silence while he was eating which was OK with me. One of the best things about that T-Bone Steak Salad is that they put two hard boiled eggs cut in half in it. That is one of my favorite parts……..after the steak of course. It always amazes me how fast John can finish off a meal. I was about halfway done with my salad and he had finished both of his and was attacking the other steak and baked potato. He had just asked for three more rolls and was eyeballing something intently behind me over my shoulder. I asked him what he was looking at and he said that there was a strange looking guy sitting at another table.

I turned in my seat to look but nobody looked strange to me. When I turned back around I told him so and he just shrugged and continued chewing. I looked down at my salad and … I had a strange feeling that I was missing one of my eggs. I looked up at John and then back at my plate and then back at John and his face remained expressionless still chewing away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a lady at the table next to us and I wasn’t sure but it looked like she was trying not to laugh. I stared at John again and his expression never changed. I really wasn’t sure but I was not going to turn around again. I kept a close eye on him until I finished my salad and shortly thereafter he got done and to my surprise went back to the peanuts.

Holy moly, I wonder if he has ever gotten filled up! I waited patiently to hear what important stuff he had to tell me and finally as if he just remembered what it was, he started talking. “Brother Chris,” he said with a touch of pride in his voice. “I got to do something last weekend that I never thought I would get to do. I went to a different Lodge to confer an EA degree and the candidate was my Nephew.” “Wow John, that sounds great,” I replied. “How did it go?” “It was really great. It was just a couple of months ago my Nephew told me he wanted to become a Mason and he turned in a petition. As he was going through the process I contacted the Lodge Secretary, Brother Guido, and let him know I wanted to come down for the degree and he had kept me in the loop on what was going on.

Once they got all the investigating and voting and all that stuff done they got it scheduled for a Saturday morning which was great because I didn’t have to miss any work. I stopped being nervous about working in Degrees a long time ago and I had never conferred a degree in a different Lodge before and the fact that it was my Nephew and at a Lodge that I had never been to made me nervous as heck and excited at the same time. I didn’t even sleep the night before. I was worried that the alarm clock in my hotel wouldn’t go off on time and I would miss the whole dang thing. That is too much stress for an old guy like me.”

“So did it go off on time,” I asked? “Well Gol Durn it Brother Chris, of course it did,” he growled. “I am telling you about it, ain’t I? Anyway, I picked up Travis (that’s my Nephew, the candidate) and we got to the Lodge around 7:30. and ohhhh my gosh Brother Chris, you should see this Lodge.

It’s an old Lodge which was established in the 1870’s. It’s got an alley running down one side of it and the local newspaper office on the other side. This building has to be a hundred years old or better. When I opened the door the wonderful smell of bacon and sausage cooking in the fry pan and biscuits baking in the oven and fresh brewed coffee hit me like a freight train….. a real good freight train,” he said with a big smile. “I know this will be hard for you to believe Brother Chris but I had clean forgot that I hadn’t eaten breakfast.”

I looked at him sideways and said, “Yeah, right, who do you think you are talking to?” “It’s the truth,” he whined. “Anyway Brother Guido and Brother Paul were in the kitchen and I met them first. Sitting in the dining room waiting to make the gravy for the biscuits was Brother Tom who checked to make sure I was who I said I was. I met the other three Brothers Jake, Jeff, and Robert who were sitting waiting for Breakfast and also Brother George who was one of their new Entered Apprentice’s and his wife and son. I have to tell you he was one of the most energetic Brothers I have ever seen. They were all taking turns chastising Brother Guido and Brother Paul about their cooking skills. I learned a big lesson from my Mother when I was a kid that you don’t ever criticize the cook……. if you plan on eating that is, so I just kept my mouth shut. Actually they were giving back as much abuse as they were getting and the friendly ragging on each other was about what you would expect when you get a bunch of Brothers together for work.

About that time three really good looking ladies came in.”“Ladies,” I asked. “Wait a minute John,” I asked, obviously irritating him. “What where the ladies doing there?” “There you go, interrupting me all the time,” he growled. Well, if you must know Brother Chris, these ladies I happen to be a little partial to. It was my Wife and my two Nieces one of whom was Travis’s wife. The Lodge, which I thought was a real nice gesture, had invited them and his kids all to have breakfast with us.

We introduced them all around and directly Brother Tom made the gravy and the eggs got finished cooking and we all lined up to fill our plates. I think that was one of the best meals I have ever had at Lodge before. Somebody must have told them that I am a growing boy and I need a lot to keep me going cause they sure made plenty.” “ After breakfast all the ladies and kids left and I wandered into the Lodge Room to kinda get the lay of the land so to speak and talked with a couple of the other Brothers who were getting the Lodge ready for the degree.

Brother Dennis who is the Senior Warden but was proteming for the Master introduced himself and asked me if I was ready to go. I told him I was and went and sat myself down in the South towards the front of the Lodge Room and was just going over the work in my mind. A couple of minutes later I looked up and they were escorting an older Brother into the Lodge and they sat him down next to me. Before I could say anything he turned and held out his hand and introduced himself as Brother Bill. I took his hand and we exchanged that “familiar grip” and I told him who I was, to which he replied, “So you’re the one.”

I asked him what he meant and he said he had heard that a Brother from another Lodge was going to confer the degree. He welcomed me and told me that he hadn’t been to Lodge for a while and was glad to be back. He told me that he was almost totally blind, that he could only see shapes but not faces. I told him it was no problem and that if he needed anything that I was right next to him. We both sat back waiting for the officers to get to their places and get ready to open the Lodge and all of a sudden Brother Bill started talking.

I turned my head towards him and he was looking straight ahead and talking in a voice low enough that I had to lean in towards him to hear. He said that he was 85 years old and that he was raised when he was 21. He said that some of the greatest times in his life were sitting in Lodge next to his Dad, and that sometimes when he sits in Lodge he gets a feeling that his Dad is sitting right beside him. Oh my gosh, Brother Chris, when he said that, a big ol lump jumped right up in my throat and I was trying my darndest to talk but nothing would come out.” (I knew what he meant because one had just formed in my throat.)

He said, “Brother Chris I swallowed a couple of times and without really thinking about it I leaned forward and looked at the empty seat on the other side of him. Then I sat back and leaned over to him and whispered in his ear “I think I do see him sitting right there next to you Brother Bill.” Well he got a big smile on his face, closed his eyes, nodded his head twice, and laid his hand on the armrest of the chair next to him. It was all I could do to keep from getting choked up Brother Chris, but luckily I didn’t have time to think about it too much because the gavel came down and the Worshipful Master began to open the Lodge.

As soon as Brother Robert got the door tiled Brother Tom gave us a prayer and we were open and ready to go. The Worshipful Master asked the Degree team to take their places and as I took my place in the East I looked around the room. Brother J.D. was at the Secretary’s desk ready for me to get it going. Brother Dennis had gone to the West and Brother Scott was in the South and my new Buddy Brother Guido was ready to take charge of the candidate as Senior Deacon. Brother John was holding down the Junior Deacons chair and I could see Brother Robert playing with some kind of coin and ready to do his part. I couldn’t see Brother Jeff but I knew he was with Travis outside the door.

Well I took a deep breath and dropped the gavel and Brother Chris; we commenced to put on what turned out to be a heck of an Entered Apprentice degree. The guys from the Lodge did an outstanding job and I was awful proud to be there with them. You know you always want the new candidate to get a good degree, but I can tell you for sure that my Nephew got a great degree. Brother Cecil gave an excellent Lecture and Brother Skylar wrapped it all up with the Charge.

When I got back to my seat next to Brother Bill he leaned over and told me that we all did a good job. I thanked him and the Worshipful Master congratulated our new Brother Travis and asked Brother Tom to go over the Lodge protocol with him. Brother Dennis then asked the Brothers to all stand and give whatever advice and information they would like to give their new Brother. One by one we all stood and offered congratulations and encouragement as well as helpful advice to Brother Travis.

When it was Brother Bill’s turn he stood and faced the new Brother and welcomed him to the Lodge and told him with as much emotion as I have ever seen from a Brother in a Lodge that he had just made the best decision he would ever make and to not waste what he had been given. Then it was my turn and I congratulated Brother Travis and told him that I was proud of him. I then told the Worshipful Master and all the brothers that I was honored to be a part of their degree team and thanked them for their hospitality.

The last to speak was the Worshipful Master, Brother Dennis, who encouraged the new Brother to not just memorize the words of the EA work, but to ask questions and learn what the words meant. Then he gave Brother Travis an opportunity to speak and he thanked the Lodge for the opportunity to become a Mason and to be a member of the Lodge and thanked the Brothers for taking time on a Saturday to work in his degree. The Worshipful Master then promptly closed the Lodge. Everyone came over to congratulate our new Brother and I took a deep breath and suddenly I realized that I was tired, really, really tired. I was ready for a nap. But we had to take care of the important stuff first… like lunch.

“Sounds like you had a pretty great weekend Brother John,” I said and I meant it. “It sure meant a lot to me to just be there for Brother Travis’s degree, he said. “But to be able to work in his degree, and not just to work, but to have the opportunity to confer the degree is something I will always be proud of and grateful to the Lodge for. I am looking forward to going back for his other degrees.”

I had been concentrating on John’s story and didn’t notice that Tony was standing at the edge of our table. He had a different kind of smile on his face and said to John, “I hope you don’t mind but I overheard most of your story and it was a good one.” With that he laid the bill down on the table. John reached for it saying, “How much are all those peanuts I ate?” Tony laughed and told him that they were no charge to customers. While John paid Tony I took a quick trip to the restroom and when I got back John was just sliding out of the booth. As we neared the door a voice called out, “Mr. Deacon?” We turned around and Tony held out one of those buckets that holds the peanuts on the tables. He handed it to John and said, “Here’s a bucket to carry all your peanuts.”

I looked at John with a puzzled look and with his face turning red he started pulling out handfuls of peanuts out of his pants pockets and his shirt pockets. Heck he even had some in both hip pockets. “Oh my God John,” I said nervously as I looked around to see if people were watching. “What are you doing with all these nuts?” “Well, Tony said I could take all I wanted so I was just taking some to munch on while I was driving down the road,” he stammered. As I watched he darn near filled that bucket with all he pulled out of his pockets. John tried to hand Tony the bucket full of nuts but he said with a smile, “The bucket is yours to carry the nuts in. Come back and eat here again sometime, and good luck with your Nephew. It struck me then that apparently Tony had been standing at our table longer than I realized. He held out his hand and John shook it. John got a big smile on his face and said, “Thank you. We will be back” And then we left.

We got to my truck first and I told John I would see him next month and lunch would be on me. As he and his bucket of nuts walked away I commented that the scene at the door was kind of weird. He turned and said, “As it turns out, Tony the Manager is actually Brother Tony.” “How did you know,” I asked? John rolled his eyes and gave me a sideways look. Then it came to me and I said Ahhhhh, it must have been that “special grip.” He smiled and nodded.

Beulah, Gertrude, And The One And Only Chester’s

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV – Staff Writer

This last month was strange and bizarre in many ways and it is a little painful to relive…but in some weird way I needed to tell the story.  And, if you are reading this you are one of the ones that get to hear the whole story.  I sent John and a few of those closest to him a slightly different version ….because ….well…you will understand after you get done reading it.  As most of you know, Davy Crockett Lodge conferred our 8th annual “Widows’ Degree” last month and it was a great success as were the previous 7.  For those of you who are new to this article, this is a program which was created to honor all wives and ladies of Masons and letting everyone laugh at us Masons by presenting a ceremony in which we initiate the ladies of Masons into a “secret”…wink, wink…. sorority of Masonic Widows.  Not Widows in the traditional sense, but widows as in hunting widows or football widows or golf widows.  To keep it fresh every year, we tweak it slightly and add or subtract a small part, always keeping the main body of the program intact.  It is always a super funny program and everyone has a load of fun.  This year the Brothers talked me into dressing as an older woman and portraying a member of the Grand Council of the Organization to confer the degree.  At first I wanted nothing to do with that idea but I was reminded that our Brother Brad had dressed “in drag” the year before and everyone loved it.  Soooo, reluctantly, I agreed to become Ms. Beulah Mae Beanblossom with the stipulation that we would keep it secret from everyone until I was introduced in the degree.  Little did I know that Brad was going to surprise everyone and become Gertrude Shufflebottom once again.  We sent out all the advertisements for the degree and started getting RSVP’s back.  Now, that is all the background I am going to give before I tell the story.

It was a couple of days before the night of the Widows’ Degree when John called and said he had a big sales meeting in Houston and would be spending the night in San Antonio on Tuesday before continuing on to Houston the next morning.  He wanted to meet for dinner and talk about the article for September.  I told him that I couldn’t because of the Widows’ program that night….but I talked him into coming to Lodge and watching the program and told him we would try to meet before for a few minutes.  I greeted him when he came in and we talked for a short time but couldn’t spend much time with him because not being used to dressing like a woman and knowing it was going to take a while, I had to disappear early to get it done.  I told him I would meet him for lunch the next day and we could talk about the article.  He knew a lot of the Brothers at our Lodge and he knew Pam so I wasn’t worried about leaving him alone.  I also warned him about his behavior since I was going to have my Daughter Brenda with me at lunch, who was visiting from Oregon.  As it turned out, the degree went fine and everyone had a great time.  We initiated twenty-one new Masonic Widows with the usual ceremonies.  I looked for John afterwards but couldn’t find him.  Pam told me that he had told her he was tired and was going to the hotel to sleep. 

The next morning I called him and set up lunch at a place called Chester’s Hamburgers.  I thought that we may have eaten there before, but I had a taste for a green chili cheeseburger and Chester’s has the best.  As usual, he arrived before Brenda and I did, and boy was he in a great mood.  That sent up a red flag in my mind and I hoped he wasn’t going to get us banned from this place.  Brenda and I found him in a back booth behind a large menu and we sat there listening to him talking to himself for a couple of minutes before he realized we were there.  I introduced him to Brenda and gave him a warning glare, which he totally ignored while good naturedly bashing me for her benefit.  Ordering food at Chester’s requires you to go to the counter and make your order and pay.  Of course John, realizing this, had found a place to sit and he waited till I got there before ordering.  I told him and Brenda that we might as well go and order, and I had to jump back to keep from getting trampled by John who made sure he was first in line.  Brenda ordered some kind of salad something and John gave her a weird look asking her why she was having rabbit food for lunch.  He then proceeded to order what seemed like one of everything on the menu.  He ordered two of my favorite green chili cheeseburgers and a regular chili con carne burger and enough fries and onion rings to feed a normal person for a week.  I thought I heard him tell the cashier that his Brother was paying as he stepped down the counter to pick up his drink…wow what a surprise.  I ordered my own green chili cheeseburger and my own fries, because heaven forbid he would offer any of his to either of us.  When I finally got to the table he was conversing with Brenda and waiting for my name to be called.  I was pretty sure when that happened I wouldn’t be the one rushing up to the counter to get our food.  I just hoped he didn’t eat much walking back to the table.  True to form when they called out Chris on the speaker he was there in a flash to pick up our tray.  I watched close as he walked back to the table and made sure that the fries he stole on the walk were the ones he took off the tray for himself.  I learned something that day.  John usually never talks when he eats….or so I thought.  He and my Daughter carried on a running conversation the whole time they ate, as if she was talking to “Uncle John” or something.  He just dug in like he hadn’t eaten in a week…….and he kept talking the whole time.  He talked to Brenda, and to me, and sometimes to no one in particular.  Then something really weird happened.  As he talked he began to talk about the Widows’ Degree the night before.  Brenda was one of the only ones who knew that I was dressing up as Beulah Mae.  John talked about how much he liked the program and said that he couldn’t find me after the program to say good bye.  And then, as he was babbling along about the Widows’ Program, right in the middle of a bite of my hamburger, he said plain as day, “Now don’t you ever tell Mrs. Deacon I said this but, Boy, that Beulah Mae sure is a looker, yup yup, and Gertrude wasn’t bad either.”  I thought, Oh my God as an electric shock went up my spine!!  I choked and jerked my head up and at the same time a little chunk of French fry shot out of my mouth right past a still babbling John.  Thank goodness he never saw it.  I heard Brenda choke and cough next to me and our eyes met in horror, both of us struggling not to laugh out loud.  He not only didn’t see the missile I launched at him, but lucky for us, he never caught on to mine and Brenda’s emotional and physical distress.  Brenda couldn’t stand it and ran for the Ladies room and I was still choking and coughing.  John looked up asked if I was all right.  And I have to admit that this is one of those times that you just have to lie to a Brother…..and I told him I was fine……when I wasn’t.  I told him if he ever mentioned that about another woman again….especially those two, that I WOULD tell Mrs. Deacon.  He shook his head and went back to eating and then….  I laughed and I laughed and laughed.  I couldn’t stop and John just shook his head sadly like I was having some kind of attack or something and ate in silence.  Brenda came back to the table with a strained look on her face and announced that she had to go and gave John and I a hug and out the door she went.  I saw that John was just finishing up and asked if he had anything for the newsletter.  He took a long swallow from his iced tea, leaned back and said” Yes I have something for you.  I have been concerned about something for a long time Brother Chris.  It’s about guys complaining that their wives don’t like Masonry or that they have a bad opinion about the Fraternity or that they just don’t have any interest in being a part of it or assisting their husbands in it.  And, this topic is a very sticky subject so I am going to have to be real diplomatic here, because I don’t want to upset anyone.  “Yup,” I said with a laugh.  “Diplomacy has never been your strong suit.”  “That’s not a very nice thing to say,” he growled…but went on anyway.  “Like I was saying, this is not the easiest of topics but I think it’s something that needs to be addressed for both the Masons as well as the ladies…. and you have to realize and pass on to your readers that this is just one old cow-poke’s opinion.  And you know what they say about opinions… …that they are like a…….”  “Hey, now,” I said holding up my hand for him to stop.  “I can’t print that and you know it.”  “Ok..  OK..  sorry,” he said apologetically as I shook my head at him.  “I just get to talking and stuff just comes out.”  “I will make sure everyone knows it’s your opinion,” I promised.  “But let’s get after it cause I don’t have all day.”  That got me a John Deacon glare, but he finally began talking again, “In my opinion, if a woman is just not interested in assisting her husband or being a part of his Masonic journey, then he shouldn’t worry about it, nor should he try to force her to.  If she is comfortable with his membership as a Mason and allows his level of participation then she should be allowed her space.  It is however, those ladies of ours who have a dislike for our Fraternity possibly due to a lack of understanding of Masonry or because they resent the time that our Masonic duties take away from them and the family that I am going to try to offer some light and understanding.  And, before you state the obvious and remind me that there are hardly any women who read your newsletter, what I am going to say is the same whether it is being read by a lady or a Brother.  Hopefully, there are Brothers who will read this and either get a Masonic lady to read it or at the very least, maybe gain some understanding himself that will help him with a lady who has misgivings or even outright hostility towards the Craft.  First, let’s define what Masonic involvement is for a wife or lady of a Mason.  There IS NO involvement in a real sense.  Women cannot be Masons in our Grand jurisdiction and they cannot sit in Lodge meetings nor can they participate in any business related to the Lodge.  The extent of their involvement is that of attending open meetings and family programs.  Knowing this, it is my belief that what we desire from our ladies is not so much involvement but rather acceptance and encouragement from them.  Let’s look at the situation logically…..you tell her that you are joining a Lodge and that it is for men only, and that its purpose is to make good men better men, and it is a system of moral development.  Then you tell her that you are going to be initiated into three degrees and that you don’t know anything about the degrees….and after your first initiation when you know what is in the degree….you inform her you can’t tell her anything about it because…..IT’S A SECRET.  Then you tell her that you are going to have to study with an instructor a couple of times a week and also go to a couple of Lodge meetings a month.  But you can’t tell her what you are studying except it’s no big deal….cause it’s a SECRET.  And, do you know what she hears?  She only hears “I am going to join a Lodge, and I am going to spend a lot of time doing stuff without you that I can’t tell you anything about.”  When you look at it like that, I think it is easy to understand why a wife might have a few concerns.”  “  Oh wow John,” I blurted out without thinking.  “Until you said all of that, I never realized how bad we screw this up with our wives.”  “Yes we do,” he agreed.  “But it’s not all our fault.  What Masonry is and what it means is hard enough for a veteran Brother to explain, much less for a brand new Brother.  Brother Masons sometime….more than I care to think about…..never learn enough about the Craft to be able to explain it adequately to anyone…..and certainly their wife.  It’s the word “secret” that causes the problems.  I shudder to think how many of our Ladies have lived with their Husband/Mason for years, without a proper understanding of the Lodge and what Masons do in there, unhappy and barely tolerating something that has violated the promise we all make to our wives….that there will be no secrets.  And surely there is a point in which that promise, that perceived breach of trust, causes irreparable damage to a relationship that should have been made stronger and happier because of the beautiful lessons and principles of the Masonic Fraternity.  I am not saying that Masonic membership causes divorce, but I suspect and I believe that many Brothers have dropped out either partially or entirely due to their wives not being able to understand, or not wanting to wait for understanding of what Masonry is and its true purpose.  And, how many of our loving wives have we imposed years of feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness and maybe a little jealousy as we have happily traveled our Masonic journey totally oblivious of the scars we may have created due to the difference between perception and truth.  Masonry takes hold of our hearts and our minds and opens doors and casts aside veils within each of us.  It causes us to sometimes, for the first time in our lives, to feel feelings that before were suppressed and to stir awakenings and discoveries in our character and to show us things about ourselves that we never knew before.  To learn the work and the lessons of the three degrees brings a major sense of accomplishment.  Those newly found feelings and sublime truths first discovered, lead to a greater confidence and sense of wellbeing which should naturally translate into a better man and a happier man.  But many times the opposite happens.  The hurt created by the perception that the man is embarking alone on a secret and separate life and his obvious love and attachment to this life could make a wife withdraw and create a divide between them.  Sometimes this is obvious and sometimes not…..but it is always there….”  John paused to take a drink from his glass and my mind began to wander.  As I pondered, I began to wonder how much hurt I had caused…..how blind I could have been to the obvious.  Listening to John was a revelation for sure.  “Oh my God John, I whispered. “  We have really screwed this up big time.”  “  Yes,” he replied.  “We surely have……and it may be big time like you said and for some maybe not as bad as we think, but whatever the level, it’s not good.  But how do we fix it, Brother Chris?  How can we possibly  make them understand that this love for Freemasonry is not a substitute for the love of a wife and family…that it can never be a replacement for the lifelong companionship of a wife….that Freemasonry’s purpose is to enhance his relationships and ultimately lead to a happier man who makes those around him happier.  How can we comfort them with the fact that the perceived secrets are just that…..perceived, that they are necessary to the search, and that the real Masonic secrets relate to something much deeper and something much more important that is found within each of us.  Can we ever succeed in showing them that Masonry is the vehicle that unlocks those deeper characteristics of a man’s inner self and allows the real him to step into the light of moral and spiritual truth.  Moreover, how will they ever believe that this journey could never be complete or even be possible without the love of that special woman….a wife….a friend ….and companion?  We have much work to do, my Brother.  Spread the word…..we have much work to do.         

Waterloo Ice House and Let the Lodge Die Rather Than Change

Waterloo Ice House and Let the Lodge Die Rather Than Change

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV

I almost didn’t get to talk to him this month.  He called and said that he was not going to be coming through San Antonio this month and of course I panicked and asked, “Well, how close are you going to come?”  “I will be staying in Austin tonight,” he said, “And then heading towards Dallas tomorrow.”  “Heck,” I answered, “That is just an hour away from me.  Why don’t I drive up there and meet you for breakfast.”  “  Ok, as long as it’s early cause I need to get on the road as quick as I can,” he said.  “And since I am going out of my way for you, then you have to buy breakfast.”  I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t say what immediately came to mind, and instead asked him if he had anything on his mind to put in the newsletter this month.  “What kind of question is that,” he growled.  “I always have something on my mind.”  “I just meant…..“  “I know what you meant and to tell you the truth, I am a little aggravated this month and you are the perfect person to vent my frustrations at.”  I think he meant “to” instead of “at”……at least I hoped so, but I said, “Ok, John, There is a place in Austin where I had one of the best breakfasts I have ever had.  It’s called the Waterloo Ice House.  Meet me there.”  “  Brother Chris, I know this is Texas and I know what an Ice House is but I never had no breakfast in one….except if it was what they used to call a little “hair of the dog.”  “Brother John,” I shot back.  “There ain’t no hair and there ain’t no dog just a real good breakfast.”  “You know I am driving don’t you?  I can’t be drinki…..….”  “Cut it out John and just meet me there.”  “OK, OK, you don’t have to get testy.”  Now for all of you out there who do not have the honor and privilege of being Texan and living in this great State, I need to explain that traditionally in Texas, Convenience stores and small beer bars were, and some still are, called ice houses.  This one was once an ice house but had been converted into a restaurant but still had the look and feel of a genuine Texas “ice house.”  I got there before him and found a table situated strategically as far back in the corner and as far away from everyone else as possible…. because, well, you know how he is sometimes.  By the time he strolled through the front door I had a couple of iced teas sitting on the table for us because neither of us are coffee people.  He didn’t even look around to see if I was there and sat down as far away from me as a person could.  I had to go up and get him.  “Sorry Brother Chris,” he said as he made it back to the table.  “I didn’t see you back there.”  I ignored him and handed him the menu which I knew he was going to like.  It was all just basic home cooking, eggs, potatoes, bacon, ham, and sausage made in every way known to man, and plenty of it which is why I picked this place.  He nodded his approval and looked around for someone to take our order.  Our server was Sandy, a nice, bubbly, and energetic young lady who asked John if he knew what he wanted.  “Yup,” he said, “I am gonna start off with that Hill Country Breakfast with bacon and don’t forget the gravy with my biscuits.”  She nodded and looked over at me and he cleared his throat semi-loudly and said, “Darlin, I’m not done yet.”  She raised her eyebrows in surprise and waited for him to continue.  “I will also have one of those All Star Breakfast’s, and a Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs breakfast.  And make all them eggs over medium and don’t scrimp on the gravy.”  “Sandy smiled and made the mistake of asking, “And what will the others be eating?”  He looked at her without any understanding in his expression and she just waited.  And then he got it, and blurted out, “Nooooo darling, that’s just for me.”  It was her turn to be confused as she stood there in shock.  I had been calculating all the eggs, bacon, and biscuits, he had ordered and the tally stood at 8 eggs, 6 slices of bacon, and 6 biscuits, and that didn’t even count the hash browns.  Slowly she turned to look at me and I quickly ordered the regular breakfast.  It took her a few seconds to get it written down, and then off she went to the kitchen.  I had picked a table for four because I knew there was going to be a lot of plates.  We didn’t have to wait long, as it seemed like only a few minutes had gone by when the kitchen door burst open and three servers headed to our table.  Sandy put my plate down in front of me first and then proceeded to lay out a pattern of china in front of John that covered most of the rest of the table.  As he dug right in to a big Chicken Fried Steak, I noticed two old timers sitting at the next table eyeballing John and his maxi-breakfast.  They glanced over at me and shook their head as I spread my hands and shrugged.  They went back to their coffee with smiles on their faces as I began to eat.  I was dying to know what had John all riled up because when he is riled up about something it can be a good talk.  It was futile trying to talk to him while he was eating so I just enjoyed my eggs and bacon, and boy those hash browns were great.  I was halfway done when he looked up and waved at Sandy and ordered four more eggs and another plate of biscuits and gravy which caused the two old timers to raise their eyebrows.  I said to one of them, “He knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Both of them grinned and shook their heads again and went back to their coffee cups.  John just rolled his eyes and continued to eat.  The only sound that came from him was the occasional grunt or groan as all that food searched for a place to go.  It made me remember that my Grandmother used to say I had a hollow leg because I ate so much when I was a kid.  Man, John must have a lot of hollow places…most I am sure I would rather not know about.  Finally, when all the plates had been cleaned and nothing was left that constituted nourishment of any kind, he looked up and said, “Boy am I upset.”  “What is it John,” I asked?  “Did something happen at your Lodge?”  “Brother Chris, It seems like things get a little crazy every year around Lodge elections time.  You know that we aren’t allowed by Masonic Law to campaign or influence in any way the vote of a Brother for any office.  And of course we can’t talk about how we are going to vote or even how we did vote because the integrity of any secret vote is sacrosanct in Masonry.”  “I know, John,” I said a little confused.  “Every Mason knows that….or should, why the refresher?”  He gave me an irritated look and said, “I know that you know that, and elections is not what I want to talk about, but something happened during our elections the other night that I think happens in a lot of Lodges.”  I could see he was getting agitated and I made the mistake of telling him to relax and tell me about it.  Well, dear reader, you probably remember how crazy he acts when I interrupt him when he gets going on something.  This time was no different.  He just stared at me for several seconds, and in that silence, with him glaring at me, the thought that he had totally forgot what he was going to say crossed my mind.  Suddenly he was back…..”  You have to stop cutting in on me,” he growled. . .  “I am trying to tell you what happened.  As usual our incoming Worshipful Master had talked to the current officers and confirmed that they would serve in a higher position if elected.  When it came time for the nominations another Brother who had recently started coming back to Lodge was nominated for a position, which was unexpected but perfectly normal, and as far as I was concerned, a welcome bit of news that this Brother was interested in serving his Lodge as an officer.  The vote was taken and the returning Brother lost.  He was then nominated for the next position and the next and was not elected to either.  Well during the balloting on the third nomination, the Brother who nominated him was heard to mumble something which was heard by several other Brothers and that is what I want to talk about today.”  

He stopped and I waited….and I waited…..and finally I couldn’t hold it any longer, “What did the Brother say, John?”  “I thought you would never ask,” he grinned further delaying the answer.  “What he said was,” “You can’t beat the clique.”  “And when I heard that it really hit me hard….in several different ways.  At first I was a little angry, and then after spending some time thinking about it, I began to see that there are several angles to that comment.  Do you know what a clique is, Brother Chris?”  Hmmm,” I said “I think it is a group within a group that is at odds with the group or tries to control the group.”  John got a bewildered look on his face and said, “I don’t know if I understand all of what you just said…..heck I am not sure you know what you just said but what you just described is exactly what this Brother was talking about.”  He was inferring that there was a group in the Lodge that controlled everything in the Lodge and, according to him, the elections of the officers.  This Brother was, by his mumbled words, saying that the election was rigged in some way.”  I couldn’t hold my words in any longer and I blurted out, “That’s ridiculous.”  “Ahhhh, of course you are right, Brother Chris”, he said.  “But I got to wondering if there were other Brethren who might be having the same ideas as this Brother.  So I decided that I needed to maybe explain to some of the “less informed Brethren” what the Brother who made the comment should already know.”  I grabbed my voice recorder and clicked it on and motioned for him to continue and after a sideways look at me he said, “Brother Chris, there really are cliques in many of our Lodges.  These cliques are usually made up of Brethren who band together in small groups to mostly oppose the ideas and or views of another group.  I will tell you that most always it is a group of Past Masters who would rather see their Lodge die than allow it to put into practice any policy or program that constitutes a deviation from the status quo.  The prevailing attitude is “If it was good enough for us when I was the Master then it is good enough for us now” or the ever popular “Well that’s the way we always did it.”  When I see this destructive choosing of sides in a Lodge I shake my head in sadness.  I already know what the problem is and I used to try to tell the Brothers what it was but my words always fell on deaf ears.  Boy, Masons are some of the most pigheaded men in existence.  The problem is always education and communication…  ….and not necessarily in that order either.  In Lodges where there is education and communication there are usually no cliques…because the Brethren can and do talk to each other.  In Lodges with destructive cliques, no one talks unless it is behind the others back.  And all of this is really bad since a clique by definition is a violation of a Brothers obligation.  And I continue to be saddened by the lack of Masonic Education of our members both in the area of Masonic Philosophy as well as Masonic history.  To the Brothers who fight change of any kind or the slightest attempt at doing something which might appeal to someone born to a younger generation, a rather small amount of research would inform them that Masonry in all ages and time periods has been the leader in change.  Masons and this fraternity have led the world into every period of progress for the last 500 years and more.  The age of enlightenment was ushered in by Masons who led the world in the study of science and scientific discovery.  It was our Brethren who led the fight for freedom in all its forms throughout history.  It was our Masonic Grandfathers and Great grandfathers, in huge numbers who created this country and this government which is unequaled by any in the history of the world….and who were responsible for the greatest leap in knowledge in the world in the shortest amount of time ever.  These were our Masonic Brothers who were always at the forefront of free thinking and forward thinking, constantly leading the change of the world, bringing mankind along paths they had not before known and making things light before them.  My God, Brother Chris.  We are the innovators and always have been.  We have changed this world and at least until lately it seems have embraced new ideas and ways.  And we have done all of this and still preserved our Ancient traditions and work.  Bottom line Brother Chris….it’s what we do…or at least what we have always done.  So sad that so many won’t try to understand that it is, and has always been, our free thinking and our changing that has helped make the world what it is.  Change is our destiny and by not changing we are in essence telling those young, healthy, free thinking minds that we don’t want you.  And then he went quiet…and I couldn’t tell if he was done or just ran out of gas.  He just sat there staring straight ahead with a confused look on his face.  I was still taking in what he had just said, knowing that he was right.  I said, “John, are you ok?”  A voice to my left said, “Yeah, are you OK?”  I glanced over and saw that the old guys at the next table had been listening to us.  John shook his head and said, “Yeah, I’m ok.  The one nearest John said, “Boy, what you said was great.  Just who are you guys anyway and how do you know you did all that stuff?”  John and I just looked at each other wondering how we were going to explain this.  They did seem genuinely interested and I was wondering what they were going to say when we told them.  John finally looked over at them and said directly, “We are Freemasons and what I said was true….all of it.”  “I told you it was them Masons” the one said to the other.  “My Daddy was a Mason and I used to hear him talk like that sometimes.  Those Masons are good men and my Daddy was a good man.”  “  Well then why the Sam Hill ain’t you a Mason,” the other old timer countered?  “I just don’t really know,” was the answer.  “It’s never too late,” I offered and they both nodded.  Then one of them said to John, “I really liked what you said and how you said it.  But that don’t just happen in your organization.  It happens pretty much everywhere.”  The two old timers then apologized for butting into our conversation and turned back to their coffee cups.  John turned back to me and took a deep breath and said, “I just got a little off track about talking about the cliques but you can’t talk about the bad stuff without understanding the ins and outs of why they are bad.  Now you know why I was upset, because our Lodge doesn’t have cliques like that.  We communicate and we educate.  Course it helps to go to Lodge to get educated…and also to read as much as possible.  What many Brethren think are cliques, are just a few of the same guys doing all the work.  I have seen it many times that guys who don’t or won’t get involved in the Lodge, who won’t take on a challenge of working on a committee, who won’t come and practice or even to regular meetings very often will decide that the Lodge is being run by a clique.  Well I’ve got news for those guys….the Lodge is being run by those who are interested enough in its future to get involved and be a part of its future.  All any Brother has to do to get involved is to show up.  There is so much that needs to be done that no one would ever be turned down for wanting to help.  I have heard the clique comment from time to time for years and I doubt I will ever be able to hear it without getting angry.  I have heard it from Brothers who’s Lodge has a serious problem and are angry and frustrated and have every right to be.  Sometimes Brothers have a valid point when the group running the Lodge is not attentive to the membership.”  “  You are so right Brother John,” I said.  “But what can a Brother do when his Lodge is being stymied or hurt by one of these groups?”  He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “As I see it, they have a couple of choices.  They can quit complaining and just get involved in their Lodge and gain consensus over time with other Brothers who have the Lodges best interests in mind instead of their own.  Then good things are surely to happen.  Or, if all avenues to correct a sinking Lodge have been exhausted, then it may be time to find a Lodge that is receptive to the Brethren.  To stop coming to Lodge is not the answer.  The Lodge is the center of Masonry and sharing that fraternal love and friendship with like-minded Brethren is the essence of Masonry….it is where our strength is.  I hope you pass this along Brother Chris.”  “I surely will John.  It looks like this trip was well worth it.”  I paid the bill and we said our goodbyes to the old timers.  He told me he would see me for sure next month, and as I watched him roar off in that big diesel pickup it occurred to me just how closely intertwined our lives become as Masons and how close to each other we become.  Wow….I sure hope I never have to live without that.  Have a great month y’all.    

Vitek’s, The Serpent, And A Lesson In Masonic Secrecy

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV

Those of you who have been regular readers of this column know that I do not believe in luck or coincidence.  I now know that things happen ….because they are supposed to happen.  And, that knowledge has been such a great awakening because of all I have realized and experienced.  What I don’t understand is how my Big Brother John Deacon seems to know where I am every month.  It’s almost as if he has some kind of a tracking device on my truck or something…… hummmmm.  I might ought to check that out……well anyway here’s what happened recently.  I was in Waco getting ready to have lunch with two of my closest Masonic Brothers when my phone rings.  I saw it was John and figured that he knowing it was about time for my newsletter, was going to tell me when he was coming through San Antonio so we could meet.  I answered and he told me that he was on his way to town and wanted to know if I could meet him the next day for lunch.  I told him that I was not going to be back for three days and told him where I was and what I was doing.  His answer was, “Hey that’s great.  I am just passing through Waco now….I will be right there.”  I just stood there with the phone to my ear with, no one on the other end because he had already hung up, a dumb look on my face, and Brad and Larry looking at me wondering what the heck was going on.  I told them that there was going to be one more joining us for lunch.  They were a lot happier about it than I was…..heck they weren’t going to have to pay for him.  We were at Vitek’s BBQ just getting ready to get in line to order.  I explained to the order taker that we had one more coming and that he was a really big guy and he eats like three men.  I just wanted to warn him, but right in the middle of my explanation John walked up and danged if every employee in the place didn’t walk up and say hi to him…..  by name.  Apparently, he has been there before….many times before.  He said hi to all three of us and said, “I’ll get us a table.”  And he walked off.  I called out to him that he had to order at the counter first and he just laughed and kept on walking.  The guy taking the orders laughed and said, “Don’t worry, we have his order already.”  We were all confused, but we went ahead and ordered and picked up our food at the end of the counter and went to look for John.  We found him sitting at a big booth in the back.  As surprised as we were that he did not have to order his lunch…….he didn’t even have to pick it up either…..they brought it to him.  I asked him what he ordered as he tried to look over the top of the mountain of food in front of him.  He said he got his usual which was four “full” Gut Paks.  A Gut Pak is a big cardboard bowl with a layer of Fritos on the bottom and piled on top was chopped beef, beans, sausage, cheese, onions, bread, pickles, jalapeno peppers, and BBQ sauce.  Just one was a huge amount of food….and he had four of them.  Larry, Brad, and I just had BBQ plates and were finished long before he was.  We made small talk amongst ourselves because John always eats in total silence.  Just when we thought he was done, one of the staff came over to shovel ….  er…pick up all the trash he left behind and left him a big bowl of banana pudding, the whole top covered in vanilla wafers just the way I like it.  We all looked at that and immediately asked the guy to bring three more…..and boy, was it good!!!  Finally all the food on the table was gone and I asked John if he had anything worth putting in the newsletter to share with us.  He contemplated for a moment trying to build suspense until I got up and said, “OK, we’re outta here…let’s go.”  “OK, OK,” he said motioning us to sit back down.  “I do have a great story for you.”  We’ll be the judge of that,” I said smiling at Larry and Brad who agreed with me.  He blinked a couple of times like he was confused but continued, “We talk about Masonic secrecy and for most non-Masons the “secrecy” is Masonry.  They don’t seem to care about anything else.  It’s all about the secrecy.  Well last week I experienced Masonic secrecy in its purest and most perfect form.  I had been invited to install my Brother Nephew as Worshipful Master of Chambers Creek Lodge, one of our many historic moonlight Lodges.  Coincidentally, as it turned out, I was going to mention Masonic secrecy in my remarks to the non-Masons in attendance.  But little did I know that I was going to see Masonic secrecy in action.”  He had our full and undivided attention now and we were all leaning a little forward in our seats.  John talks a little loud at times and I was sure that the guys at the table next to us must have heard him because they were leaning a little towards us and not talking to each other at all.  I gave John the “lower your voice” signal which he totally ignored so I kept myself ready to jump on him if he said anything he wasn’t supposed to.  “Now I am going to tell the story as close to how Brother Joe told it,” he said seriously.  “This is a very old Lodge building, over 100 years old, but still standing strong.  Originally, it was a school on the ground floor and the Lodge room on the top floor….and as you can imagine, pest and varmint control is always a challenge.  Brother Joe, the incoming Junior Warden, got to the Lodge before the rest of us and opened up the fellowship hall which is on the ground floor.  He then was going to climb the stairs to the Lodge room and get the lights on.  To get to the stairs you have to exit the lower level and enter a hallway on the side of the building.  As he got to the top of the stairs he saw something move and when he saw what it was, he froze.”  At this point, dear reader, I have to tell you that when John paused to take a swallow of his tea, with me, Larry, and Brad hanging on that last word, he came really close to being roughed up by all three of us…..and I think we could have taken him.  He saw the aggravation on our faces and chuckled and finally continued, “There, against the wall and wrapped around the top of the staircase banister was a snake.  They just stared at each other for a few seconds waiting for the other to make a move.  Brother Joe looked him over and saw that he was a rat snake about four foot long and although he knew he wasn’t poisonous, that didn’t mean he liked him any better.  Then symbolically pro teming as Tiler, Brother Joe grabbed the implement of that office and used the business end to coax that slithering intruder down the stairs.  I can almost see him in my mind thrusting and parrying, keeping that sucker moving downstairs towards the door.  Every few feet that old snake would raise his head and swivel it around to look at Joe as if to say “give me a break….I’m going already.”  And when that snake got to the door instead of just going out, he went in behind the door.  So Joe, really careful like, used the tip of his sword to gently swing the door away from the wall, keeping a watch out for him to try and double back.  Instead of the door just swinging away from the wall, it shut completely, and there Joe was….him and that Rat Snake together……alone…..in total darkness.  Now I don’t know about you boys, but I would have been up on my tippy toes doing a little tap dance worrying about keeping my bodily functions in check in that situation.  But Brother Joe is a braver man than I and he reached across and opened that door and looked down just in time to see the last 12 inches of serpent disappear through a sizable crack between the door frame and the floor.  And then, knowing there were visitors….and more than likely ladies coming, he found a piece of wood and covered the escape hatch to prevent any sort of re-entry…….at least from that spot.”  John stopped to take a breath and I could hear the guys at the next table giggling.  Brad’s mouth was open in shock and Larry was shaking his head in disbelief.  I just sat there in silence staring at him.  I still wasn’t sure that he was not making the whole thing up.  “So where does the Masonic secrecy come into play,” I asked?  “Well, if you would hold your horses and let me finish,” he shot back sarcastically.  “When the rest of us got to the Lodge, Brother Joe was just sitting at one of the tables, still a little winded, holding that Tiler’s sword in his hand.  After he told us the story, we all went to searching the various apartments of the building, upstairs and down for that unwanted visitor.  We then held a quick clandestine meeting to swear everyone to secrecy as to not have the visitors and ladies refuse to come into the building and having to cancel the Installation.  It was decided that all hands were to keep an eye out to guard against the approach of any kind of cowan or eavesdropper.”  “  Why was the meeting clandestine,” Brad wanted to know.  “Because we didn’t have enough to open a Lodge,” he snarled like we already knew that.  “And we didn’t want anyone to get wind of what happened…….and nothing did.  That snake never made an appearance and all went well.”  “  So what about your comments before the installation,” Larry asked.  “You said you were going to say something about secrecy.  How did that go?”  “  Well let me tell you fellers what I told them,” he said.  I told them that there are a lot of people out there who think our Fraternity is a secret society and that everything we do is secret, and that it is true that secrecy is at the heart of our lessons and obligations, and that our rituals contain “supposed” Masonic secrets…….but as most Brother Masons know, our secret ritual can differ quite a bit from one Lodge to another and sometimes from one night to another in the same Lodge.  Also the ritual from one Grand Jurisdiction to another is either slightly or in most cases very different from each other.  I told them that the true secrets of the Freemasons are just this: shared experiences, private thoughts, and deeper understandings between men…. who have formed a bond through a fraternity that supports and strengthens them through its teachings.  Men from all walks of life and from all backgrounds come together in Masonry and call each other Brother.  And, many of us truly become like brothers.  We form trusting and resilient friendships.  We share life’s trials and tribulations.  We accept and are accepted.”  Wow, John.  That’s really good,” I said.  “How did they like it?”  “Well if you would quit interrupting like you always do and let me finish, I will tell you,” he growled.  “I told them that there are those who believe that Masons are a group of elitists, who parade around in their Aprons, and think they are better than everyone else…..but the truth is that Masons are just regular men, good men, who are each on his own personal journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.  Masons are men who believe in God…. who are looking for, and in most cases finding truths about not only themselves, but life in general.  And, I told them that we use what we call working tools which relate symbolically to the tools of the ancient builders.  These tools are used symbolically in our rituals to convey moral and spiritual lessons by using allegory or simply a play in which the initiate represents the principal character.  I finished by telling them that Masonry speaks to every man differently.  It speaks to him in a way he can understand.  It is said about Masonry that, from the outside looking in, it is impossible to understand… ….and from the inside looking out, it is impossible to explain.  In many ways it cannot be explained.  It must be experienced….it must be felt.  It is about doing things right……and it is about good.  If you are a family member of a Mason, it is important for you to understand that Masonry is not to be made more important than your God, your family, or your vocation.  Masons are not perfect men…….but we are working on it.  The stated purpose of Masonry is to make good men, better men…… better husbands…..better Fathers….and better citizens and to be a positive example and influence to others.”  And he stopped …….and no one said anything.  Partly because he chewed my rear last time anyone said anything and partly because no words were necessary.  There was no doubt it was good….maybe real good.  The guys at the next table who were eavesdropping got up and came over and shook John’s hand and said, “Thank you sir.  That was very interesting.  I learned more about you Masons in that last thirty minutes than I have ever known.  We are glad we were here to snoop and hear them.  I have family members who are Masons but I never asked to join because everyone who tried to explain it to me had a different story….and I took that to be suspicious.  I am starting to see why it is so confusing to those of us who aren’t Masons.  I can see that it is different for each man and that makes sense to me.”  With that he and his friend said goodbye and walked out the door.  “That was a pretty good story John,” Larry said.  “And I am not sure that it lives up to the definition of pure and true Masonic secrecy, but it sure puts into perspective our obsession with the word “secrecy.”  Did you ever stop to think about how long that snake has been hanging around the Lodge?  He might already be in possession of all the secrets of a Master Mason.”  If that is true my Brother,” Brad interjected.  “Maybe y’all ran him off and he was just looking to get a petition.  That’s a hell of a way to treat a prospective candidate.”  We all…….except John got a good laugh out of that.  He had a frown on his face and seemed offended.  “You know it’s not that funny,” he said seriously.  “Brother Joe was in a scary situation.”  Well we stopped laughing immediately.  Heck we didn’t realize it was such a big deal to him.  And as we sat there feeling sorry for making a joke, John suddenly let a whoop and began laughing uncontrollably.  The joke was on us.  “Brother John,” I said after the laughter died down.  “This was fun.  The story was good, the fellowship was good, and the food was real good.  Unfortunately, we have to get going so instead of sneaking out and sticking me with the lunch bill or telling me you forgot your wallet, just give me your ticket and I will pay.  I have to say it was worth it this time.”  “  Well, that’s awful Brotherly of you my Brother,” he said as he waived one of the employees over.  “Could you bring my lunch bill to my Brother Chris?  He has graciously offered to pay for my lunch.”  The employee smiled and said, “Mr. Deacon, every time you drive through Waco you stop and eat here and because of all the money you have spent here over the years, the manager told me to tell you that your meal today is on the house.”  It was my turn to let out a whoop, and when I did, I looked over at John and the look on his face as he realized that technically I was getting the free lunch by not having to pay for his …..  was priceless.  His mouth was moving but there were no words coming out and that is how we left him.  Yessir….it was a great day.

Our Obligation to Masonic Funerals
And
Truck Stop Enchiladas

“Brother Chris, I am so hungry I could eat the South end out of a North bound mule,” he said. I responded with a sick look on my face, “John I am going to act like you never said that to me.” My day had been going pretty good until I looked up and saw a giant coming in the door. It was John all right and of course he was hungry… when is he not? I told him that I didn’t know he was coming and I had to run an errand downtown. Predictably, he wanted to go with me and have lunch somewhere on the way. I told him he could come along and began trying to figure out where to eat. If it was just me I would drive through somewhere and eat on the run but not John. Oh no …………. His is a more refined palate and demands a higher quality junk food. It’s enough to make you lose your appetite. I finally decided to try something a little different and asked John if he had ever eaten at Casbeers. “I am sorry Brother Chris,” he said “but I don’t really drink beer.” “I don’t mean drink beer John,” I said looking sideways at him. “I mean have you eaten at a place called Casbeers?” “No,” he replied “I’m OK going just about anywhere; I just won’t have the beer.” I gave up and just drove in silence. It was better for my sanity that way. After a while he just began talking. He said, “Brother Chris, one of our Lodge members, Jerry Lee, was moaning the other day that one of our long time members and a Past Master had gone to that Celestial Lodge above and there were only five Masons at his funeral. He said that it was embarrassing because the Brother had been a member of our Lodge for almost 50 years and only five Brothers made it to his funeral and he could tell that the family was disappointed. I listened to him going on about it for a few minutes and decided I had heard enough. This had been boiling in my belly for some time and it was ready to come out. I said “Brother Jerry, what year was this Brother the Master of our Lodge?” “Well John,” he replied back to me, “You know when he was Master. It was the year before you. I guess it’s been 25 years or so.” I said, “So when was the last time the Brother was in Lodge?” “I think it was, as well as I can remember, about 20 years or so since I last saw him,” Jerry answered but quickly continued, “But he was kind of active in the Scottish Rite and the Shrine. You know that we have an obligation to him as our Brother to attend his burial.” “ So, other than you and I, who else who is active in the Lodge right now knows him,” I asked. He figured out where I was going with this and got defensive on me, “That shouldn’t matter John. We all take an obligation to take care of each other and we didn’t do our job last week.” I could tell he was sure he was right on this and he was going to fight me tooth and nail to the finish so I said to him, “Brother Jerry, you are absolutely right ……” He got a real confused look on his face as he was not expecting that response. So while I had him wondering what the heck was going on I finished my sentence ……..“ in a perfect world. But this, Jerry, is not a perfect world. This is the real world. In a perfect world our Brothers would attend the Blue Lodge at least some of the time. In a perfect world they would realize that their boring Lodge that they stopped attending because they didn’t like someone in the leadership or something that was going on, has a change every year in not only leadership but also in dynamics as new Brothers step in with new and different ideas and programs. In a perfect world they would get involved in making their Lodge better instead of running off to the Scottish Rite, or York Rite or Shrine and putting their talents to work there, never to return to their Lodge. In a perfect world, Brother Jerry, they would realize that those other organizations wouldn’t even exist without the Blue Lodges.”

Well, I could see that he was panicking because I was cutting down the appendant organizations so I said, “Now don’t go getting weird on me Brother Jerry. You know that I am a Scottish Rite Mason, and a York and a Shriner just like you. My point is that even though I attend functions of all of them when I can, I always manage to attend my Lodge. I am not able to go all the time but everyone knows me and I know all the active Brothers. Are you starting to get my point?” Jerry lowered his head and said, “I see what you are saying Brother John but it’s just not fair.” “You are right,” I said. “But the truth of the matter is that the world we live in right now pulls each and every one of us in so many different directions that time is the one thing no one has enough of. So in the real world, Brother Jerry, if the Brothers know you, they will make the time to show up to your funeral and if they don’t, they might not. I am not saying it is right and I know it’s not fair but …………. It Is What It Is. I do wish though, my Brother that I could somehow make all my Brothers understand how important their Lodge is.” “ Durn it Brother John,” Jerry whined, “I know what you mean. Sometimes I feel like we are beating our heads on the outside of the door and the door never opens.” I stood there with a surprised look on my face and I told him, “Jerry, what you just said is dripping with symbolism and deeper meanings. It is a quote that demands deeper study and reflection for sure.” Jerry got a worried look on his face and started looking around for an escape. As he eased away from me he said over his shoulder, “Sometimes you scare the heck out of me John.” Durned if he didn’t avoid me the rest of the night.

So there’s my story Brother Chris. You can agree or not but it’s the way it is. I said, “John, I can’t argue with any of what you said but I admit that the whole thing makes me sad. I wish that I had the answer. A Brother that works is always less likely to be able to go to funerals during the week. I do have to agree with what you said about knowing a Brother. If I know him, I will make whatever arrangements necessary to be there. If I don’t know him I will try to make it but I admit that it’s not as much of a priority as if I know the Brother. I am sorry to admit that. My priorities need to change.”

We had arrived at the restaurant and I got to the door and looked around for John and he was still sitting in the truck. I waived and said, “John this is the place.” He stuck his head out the window and emphatically said, “There is no way I’m going in there to eat.” I had been there plenty of times and I had forgotten what the front of the place looked like. Actually because I knew what was behind the front door I had stopped noticing the outside a long time ago. I guess it actually is a little intimidating to someone who has never eaten there. The restaurant is sandwiched between a pizza place and a bar next to a tattoo parlor in a small strip center with almost no room to park in the front. It is painted in a variety of colors with the predominate color being yellow. The neighborhood is an older one with both newly remodeled houses as well as many in various stages of disrepair. The front door to the restaurant is a combination screen and wood door and has seen better days. I guess the most intimidating feature is the original spray can artwork that adorns the front of the building in several places. I chuckled as I thought that John is probably not the only one who didn’t want to go in after seeing the outside. But I knew what was behind that door. “Hey John”, I teased. ” “I thought they called you BIG John. Quit being a sissy and get your rear out of the truck before the place gets busy.” “ You’ve got to be kidding,” he laughed. There’s no one here but us and I’d be surprised if it ever gets busy.” “ Boy are you in for a big surprise,” I said as he tentatively approached the door. I swung it open and he followed me in. Once inside I looked back at John, whose mouth was open in surprise. His first reaction was to ask, “Where the heck did all these people come from?” There must have been 25 or 30 people there eating. We found a booth in the back that was empty and settled in. While John perused the menu the menu I enjoyed the atmosphere. It is a real neat place to go. The room is in an “L” shape and its main feature is the long wooden bar that runs from the front door about half way across the dining room. Old style wood booths line the walls with about ten tables scattered across the room. There is a band stand in one corner and they have live music several nights a week. The locals make up the most of their clientele and most all the time you will find a table or two occupied with retired guys having a beer or just shootin’ the breeze. The walls are covered with pictures, most of them autographed, of all the musicians that have performed there. It just so happened that on the wall in our booth looking down on us with a big grin and a cigar in his mouth was a picture of Kinky Friedman. To top it all off was a twelve foot TV screen on one wall with a World Cup Soccer match on. I noticed John was looking around the room too and I asked him what he thought. He got a little smile on his face and said, “Brother Chris this is the kind of place that my Daddy would say has “a lot of character.” I love this place. I sure hope the food is good too.” I said, “John, you are in for a reeeeeeeeeeeal treat. Their specialty is enchiladas. These are not your regular enchiladas though. They are bigger than your normal enchilada with cheddar cheese inside. They have cheddar cheese all over the top and are smothered, and I do mean smothered with the best chili you ever tasted. …………. John, are you drooling?” I continued as he wiped his mouth. “You order them in quantities of two or three and yes, you can order as many as you want. They come with bread or crackers. I call them truck stop enchiladas and I love them.” Heck he was waving for the waitress before I finished talking!! She wandered over to our table obviously not real impressed by John’s stature nor his exuberance. Her name was Mary. John was so giddy with excitement at the opportunity of ordering multiple amounts of just enchiladas that he was almost bouncing in his seat. Mary looked at him and then at me and asked without any emotion in her voice, “What’s up with Paul Bunyan here?” I grinned and started to speak but before I could answer John said. “Are you the enchilada lady? I need some enchiladas.” Still looking at me she asked, “How many enchiladas does Paul want?” Again before I could answer he said, Young lady it’s John, not Paul and he wants twelve enchiladas, a big glass of tea, and just bring a loaf of bread.” Still looking at me (and keeping in mind that I haven’t said a word yet) with a look of total disbelief on her face she said, “Does Paul…uhhhhh … John know that no one has ever eaten twelve enchiladas here at one time before?” I honestly did try to say something but again he butted in, “Not to worry darlin’ and keep that dessert menu handy. Oh, and my friend here will have four enchiladas …. Is that OK Brother Chris…? (I just nodded… what else could I do) and a big tea for him too and he’ll share my bread.” She then arched her eyebrows still looking at me and asked, “Will that be all?” Heck I didn’t even try to answer but this time John didn’t either so I just nodded. As she walked away she winked at me and said, “Nice talking to you.” John leaned towards me, lowered his voice, and said, “Brother Chris is it just me or was she a little strange?” “John, she is probably saying the same thing in the kitchen right now about you.” (I don’t know how it is, but when I am with John it feels like I am in the middle of an old Twilight Zone episode.) I said. “I don’t think she likes being waived at the way you did.” When she brought our plates he tried to tell her that he was not a crazy man but I think he made it worse and he finally started in on his enchiladas. A couple of the patrons close by raised their eyebrows as they saw how many enchiladas that John had ordered. We ate in silence as usual and when he did talk it was more of a grunt. It was obvious that he liked them. As he was finishing Mary came by to fill our tea glasses and asked me if it all tasted good. I told her all was well and John said “you may think I am crazy but darlin I don’t think you know just how much I love enchiladas and these are some of the best I have ever had. I don’t think I could look myself in the mirror tomorrow if I didn’t have at least four more. She turned and just stood there staring at John as if she was in a trance. Then she slowly turned around and announced to the room that he wanted four more. I hadn’t realized it but everyone in the place had been watching as John ate his meal. As soon as Mary made her announcement they all let out a big cheer. Heck they were still whooping and hollering when Mary delivered the four enchiladas to John. This was apparently a major thing for all of them. (It was obvious that they don’t get out very much) As John ate they stared at him and let out another cheer every time he finished an enchilada. Of course he was loving every bit of it. He had that big goofy grin on his face and was soaking up the attention. I just shook my head. Having a nice quiet lunch with John Deacon is a virtual impossibility. By the time he finished all four there was a crowd of people around us about two feet from our table. I don’t know about you but I have a hard time eating when I’m being stared at. I don’t usually get claustrophobic but this was a little uncomfortable. I noticed that the place had pretty much filled up with people. I guess the word was out that history was being made at Casbeers. I could see that John was caught up in the moment. He had just finished the last four he ordered and to the wild cheers of the throng he ordered four more. I had stopped eating a long time ago and just for the record, no one noticed. I was watching John closely for signs of enchilada overload…………… you know what I am talking about, but he seemed to be doing ok. I heard someone yell from the back asking how he was doing. He said something like “that’s why they call me Big John.” Mary had not spoken a word to him since we got there. I am pretty sure that she thought he was nuts. Heck I could have told her that. Off towards the kitchen I saw that the cook had written the number 12 with a plus sign and a four and another plus and another four. Lord this was taking on a life of its own. As usual everyone was having fun but me. I just knew this was going to end badly. I turned back to see him down number twenty to the delight of his adoring fans. Sure they were happy; they didn’t have him riding in their truck. The crowd had moved right up to the edge of our booth and we were trapped in. Those crazy people were actually chanting his name Big John ….. Big John…. Big John and imploring him to order more. He was looking at me and I thought he was getting a little “green around the gills” and I also thought about maybe getting out of the line of fire (if you know what I mean). Just them he let out the biggest, baddest burrrrrrrrrp I think I have ever heard, took a deep breath, and promptly ordered three more enchiladas. The crowd went wild and the cook added a three to the blackboard. I had to yell over the noise to be heard, “John,” I yelled. “Are you crazy?” “Yup,” he yelled back. “I’m going for the record Brother Chris.” I yelled that he had broken the record a long time ago but he didn’t hear me. Mary had to literally climb over people to get to us. The first sign of trouble came right after he had finished the second enchilada. I was the first to see it. The goofy grin went away all of a sudden and he glanced at me. I noticed the beads of sweat that had appeared on his forehead. Then he stopped chewing completely. Immediately the place went quiet. John was still looking at me and I will be honest, I was slowly easing out of the booth just in case. There was no sound in the place. These people weren’t born yesterday. They knew what was coming. They were easing back too. I whispered, “John, are you OK? You want me to help you to the bathroom?” John nodded very slightly and whispered back, “Just point me in the right direction and give me a push. As we eased out of the booth together the crowd, sensing what was going on quickly made a lane for us to get across the room. I could see his legs trembling a little and I thought I might have to help him but he got all the way to the door of the men’s room by himself and disappeared inside. I turned around and said, “He will be OK. Y’all can all go back to what you were doing.” No one moved. “Seriously now, it’s OK.” But still…No one moved. So we waited. After it had been about five minutes I started to think that I should go in and check on him and by the looks on some of the onlooker’s faces they thought so too. I shrugged and turned to the door and as I reached for the handle it swung open and John walked out. The first thing he saw was about seventy five people staring at him as he came out of the door and it startled him for a second and he stopped still in the doorway. There we were. Everyone staring at John ……. and John staring back. Then he did something only John would do. He got the goofy grin on his face and threw his hands in the air. Holy crap, the place went crazy. Their hero was back. Some of these people needed to get a life for sure. John went straight back to the booth and took and drink of tea and announced that he was done. I looked around for Mary to pay the check while trying to calculate how much 23 enchiladas plus my four was going to be. She waded through the crowd to hand me the bill which only had my meal on it. Seeing my quizzical look she explained that John’s was on the house. Apparently he had brought in a whole days worth of business during the last hour and everyone was hungry now. Great I thought, at least something good came out of this. I turned for the door in time to see the cook taking a picture of John next to a big plate of enchiladas. Everyone was shaking his hand and clapping him on the back. I grabbed his arm and headed for the door and managed to get him out without too much trouble. People were still waving as we got into my truck and headed out. We rode along in total silence for a while until I couldn’t stand it anymore and I asked, “Hey John, did you lose all those enchiladas while you were in the restroom?” He gave me a sideways glance and said a little sheepishly, “Heck no Brother Chris. I just needed to … ahhhhh ……. relieve some air pressure … if you know what I mean. I was just trying to be polite.” “ Well that got me to smiling and the smile turned to a grin and the grin to a chuckle and by the time I was laughing out loud so was John. I told him between gasps for breath, “I have to tell you John that I love you and you are my Brother but if you attempt to ahhhhhhhhh ….. relieve some air pressure or anything else in my truck I WILL leave your hugeness on the side of the road.” “ Point received and taken my Brother,” he said curtly. “And I would extend the same courtesy to you in similar circumstances.” “I am sure you would John,” I said as I pulled up next to his truck to let him out. I had been thinking about what he had said earlier about his argument with his Brother Jerry from his Lodge.

“You know John,” I said. “ Just to be clear regarding funerals for our departed Brethren. It is pretty sad that we can get 20 Brothers to come to a Masters Degree for a Brother but we can’t get five Brothers to bid him farewell when he passes. I agree with your Brother Jerry that it isn’t fair. Heck, you and I are real active in the Lodge, but what if sickness or even age makes it so we cannot go to Lodge anymore and when we die no one shows up. I think you will agree that it is not fair at all. The answer is for we who still are active to make sure our Brethren know and understand how important it is to honor our departed Brethren. We need to understand that we are, or should be, Masons from the beginning to the end and if he is a Brother Mason then he deserves a proper ceremony with his Brothers present.”

“I agree with you, Brother Chris,” he said. “I think that Jerry and I just need to make sure the awareness is there and maybe the attendance at funerals will be better.” He slid out and closed the door and did a little jig across the parking lot.

“I have to tell you John, that life is never dull when you are around and I haven’t figured out if that’s good or bad.” He climbed in his truck and rolled down the window and looked at me with a real serious look on his face and said, “Let me know when you figure it out and just remember that I am a legend in my own mind.” I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly but before I could say anything he threw his head back and started cackling like an old lady and drove off down the road. He apparently thought it was funnier than I did. Guess I did hear him correctly after all.

LIBRARY & MUSEUM STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT

The Grand Lodge Library and Museum Board is honored to announce that Billy Hamilton has joined our organization in the position of on-site General Manager for the Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas, effective today. Brother Hamilton brings over 20 years of management experience leading teams at major corporations such as Verizon and AT&T, as well as a distinguished history of volunteer service to the Masonic fraternity. Billy also brings unique skills in technology and innovation that enhance the purpose and vision of the Library and Museum.

As the General Manager, he will be responsible for all decisions including, but not limited to, the use of the Grand Lodge building, maintenance and upkeep, employee relations, human resources matters, and any business in reference with the Grand Lodge building, the Library and Museum, and the Masonic Oak Park. Brother Hamilton now serves as the single point of contact for all questions related to the Grand Lodge building facilities, including rental, hours of operation, and policies. He will report directly to the Grand Lodge Library and Museum Board of Directors and will serve as their voice in all matters of day-to-day operations.

Brother Hamilton will be available in the office Monday through Friday during regular business hours. For any questions, please feel free to contact him at gm.gllmot@gmail.com.

Please join the Board in welcoming Billy to our team and supporting the great mission of preserving and perpetuating all things venerated by the Library and Museum.

MASONIC GRAND LODGE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM OF TEXAS BOARD OF DIRECTORS
CLAUDE O. ERVIN – PRESIDENT
JERRY N. KIRBY, PGM –  FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT
LYNDON L. OLSON, JR. – SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT
DON PAUL PAYTON – SECRETARY/TREASURER
W. SCOTT LEOPOLD, SR. – DIRECTOR
RUSSELL C. BROWN – DIRECTOR
ROBERT M. LOFLIN – DIRECTOR

Masonry At Its Source

Historic Evidence Found in Ancient Egypt and Throughout 

The Old World 

Texas Freemason – September 1920 

Editor’s Note: There are many practical-minded brethren in the modem Craft who, though good and active Masons, are little interested in questions of antiquity relating to the order. However, the antiquity of Masonry is one of the supports that has given it appeal to the greatest minds and the finest types of men of past generations as well as the present. It is proof of the great truth embodied in Masonry that endures like the truth of nature itself. Some of the so-called evidence produced by Masonic scholars is rather vague and not established perhaps to the satisfaction of a jury of twelve sitting in judgment; but such facts as Bro. Higgins, quoted in the following article, has discovered are at least as authentic and credible as much of the evidence upon which many of the accepted facts of profane history are founded. This treatise is reproduced for the benefit of Masons who find pleasure in the study of these questions. It has had extensive publication in the profane press. 

With the recent explorations in the Soudan region of Africa of the ruins of Napata, the ancient capital of Ethiopia (the Kush of the Old Testament), bringing to light an ancient temple of Amon containing a huge Masonic altar, and with archaeologists getting ready to renew their explorations in Palestine and the Euphrates valley, antiquarians are expecting further additions to the vast mass of evidence of the worldwide spread of Primitive Freemasonry, which conceals in its rites, symbols and ceremonies the teaching and belief m the “Grand Architect” and “Great Geometrician of the Universe,” a one and supreme God. 

The most noted Masonic antiquarian in the United States, Frank G. Higgins, thirty-second degree, who has passed twenty-five years and travelled the globe in his search for Masonic relics, expects the explorations to bring to light much new material that will link the mound builders of the Mississippi Valley, the Mayas of Yucatan, the ancient Egyptians and the Chaldees into one primitive brotherhood. 

“It is true that Freemasonry is the parent of all religion, the original world-wide cosmic gnosis, diffused in ancient times to the uttermost ends of the earth,” said Mr. Higgins when seen in his Brooklyn home surrounded by hundreds of books and case after case of Masonic relics. “Freemasonry is the Pompeii of prehistoric science. All the Masonic ritual, its Egyptian signs, its Chaldean grips, its Sanskrit passwords, its ancient Hebrew symbols, its cabalistic allusions and its historical record are supremely scientific and a survival through long ages, by various underground channels, of the knowledge of the universe which was gained by Sabean astronomers from the temple tops of Chaldea, India and China and recorded by the equally learned geometers and mathematicians of the ancient Orient. 

Origin Of Great Dials 

“It was the knowledge, concealed within the brotherhood, that enabled them to build the gigantic sun dials, such as that at Stonehenge, in England. The two pillars of Masonry today are the same as those which stood before the Temple of Solomon, erected by the same building fraternity, under the supervision of the priest-architect who builds the Sun Temple at Tyre, before which similar pillars stood. They are the same pillars as those that stood before the ancient temples in America when Cortez gazed in wonder on the civilization of the Aztecs. They are the same pillars that fixed the solstitial points in the first crude circles of stone, with a central stone representing the sun, and the same pillars which became the Temple of Janus among the Romans, the totem poles of modern savages, and the Jakin and Boaz of European cathedrals. 

“The key to the entire secret system is to be found in the ancient system, preserved from ages long anterior to their reputed time by the Israelites, of using identical characters for letters and numbers, a system called gematria, and upon which a simple mathematical formula, 10-5-6-5, is shown to be the basic source of all manifested existence-that formula when presented in the Hebrew letters corresponding to the numbers bring ‘Jod-Ha-Vv-Ha,’ or in English ‘J-H-V-H,’ or Jehovah. 

“If this remarkable fact had been confined to the sacred writings of the Hebrews it might be accepted as a peculiar outcropping of national genius, but this is not the case. My researches reveal the presence of an ‘esoteric,’ or ‘mystery’ Jehovah worship throughout the entire ancient world as the basis of all the outwardly pantheistic cults; the real knowledge being concealed from the mass by the priesthood and rulers, because it was too high for them to grasp. The worship of the Great First Principle, defined and also hidden by the mathematical Jehovah glyph, was at one time spread over the whole expanse of anciently civilized America, whether represented by the vanished race of mound builders of our own United States ·or the perished races of Mexico, Central and South America. This later wonderful fact may as readily be verified by the visitor to such a purely American collection as that in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, or the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, as by the digger in Euphrates mud or Egyptian sands. 

Shown In Modem Lines 

“The crowning secret of the ancients, as well as of our own time, is that the study of the structural proportions of our universe as evinced in lines of force and direction, cyclic time periods, celestial areas and visible parts, reveals the fact that it is of definite form, perfectly balanced proportion and just such a synthesis of the principles of pure geometry as to .show that the features exhibited are from the same causative source as that which geometrizes the snowflake, the crystal, and the blossom. Hence the expression used in Masonry of the Grand Architect and the Great Geometrician of the Universe. 

“The ancient Egyptians adopted as the key to this great cosmic philosophy the famous Pythagorean triangle of 3x4x5 proportions, which is the basis of the celebrated forty-seventh proposition of Euclid. They called the three sides Osiris Isis and Horus, considering the first two as spirit and matter and the latter as nature, evolving from the wedding of the other two. This triangle represented as the ‘Eye of Horus’ and typifying the sun, became the ‘All Seeing Eye’ of Freemasonry. 

“The value of the Hebrew letters in the famous triangle is 543, which is half of an oblong of 3×4 the other half of which is 345. The sum of both equals 888 and is the value of the letters in the Greek New Testament name, Jesus. An oblong of 3×4 contains three of 4×9, and vice versa. The oblong of 4×9 was represented symbolically as the Atef crown on the head of the Egyptian Sun-god Ra, whose name really means ‘light.’ 

“From this simple proportion alone, according to the methods of the ancient Egyptians, can be at once correctly delineated all the main physical features of our universe in absolutely correct astronomical proportions, and in so doing is evolved the most sacred of ancient symbols, the trapezoid of 10-5-65 proportions, which became known as J-H-V-H among the Jews, I-H-0-H in Phoenicia I-H-U-H in Chaldea, H-U-H-I in Egypt, OI-HA-HU in India, HO-HI and FO-HI in China and I-0-W-A in ancient America. We find the Jehovah symbol as the shoulders and arm of Osiris, as he judges the souls in Amenti, in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead,’ and as the apron worn by the mysterious stone Colossi of Quiriguá, Guatemala, copies of which are in our own American Museum of Natural History. 

The Great Pyramid 

“We find the Masonic keystone to be not merely an architectural requisite but the angle of 23 ½ degrees, or the correct inclination of the axis of the earth to the pole of the ecliptic, and to embody the vertical section of the great Pyramid of Gizeh four times repeated. We find the little clay idols of the parted aboriginal races of Colombia, South America, decorated with the geometrical glyphs of this secret order, the ornaments of the robes of Ute ancient Inca priests in Peru, but exemplifications of the same sacred figures, and the amulets of the Mayas and Toltecs, in Mexico, also engraved with them. 

“That there must have been some world-wide organization to distribute these symbols in ancient and prehistoric times is evinced by the fact that by common consent the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Mexicans constructed pyramids, which is shown by the great Pyramid of Gizeh, in Egypt, and the Teocalli of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, as leading examples, were component parts of a single geometrical problem, the key to which is the simple Masonic apron as worn today and the graphic symbol of which covenant is still preserved as a cosmic figure among the Hopi Indians of Arizona.” 

In discussing the Masonic keystone Mr. Higgins displayed examples picked up in his travels from China, India, ancient Tyre, Egypt and Palestine that all were cut on the angle of 23 ½ degrees, but perhaps his most precious specimens were several black serpentine amulets from Yucatan and Central America more than three thousand years old that displayed the keystone and also the inverted Tau cross, so familiar. to Masonic brethren in their lodge work. In pointing out the triangle of “equal areas” on the forehead of the amulet and the keystone nose Mr. Higgins drew attention to the fact that the Jewish worshipper today describes with his fingers this triangle in the same place when making his invocation on the Day of Atonement. 

Another exceedingly rare specimen was an early Akkadian or Hittite seal expressing a triangle with three Masonic dots and the sacred proportions of 3×4 and 4×5, a total of sixteen, meaning “J-A-H,” the universe. 

“While these keystones are very valuable in proving my contention that Freemasonry was Widespread even in prehistoric times, I consider the Masonic apron preeminent as the symbol of hidden mysteries of Masonry’ said Mr. Higgins. “It, too, is based on the Pythagorean triangle which, as I said, was used to conceal the mysteries of the Egyptian religion. The priests knew that the letter I, 0, H, or J, V, H, which were publicly applied to the sides of the triangle and called Isis, Osiris and Horus, were the secret mathematical formulae which they considered the key to the universe. 

Hope of Humanity 

‘If you will read in a good book on mythology the story of the death of Osiris, slain by his brother Typhon, and the long search for his mutated body by the disconsolate widow, Isis, you Understand, especially if you are a Mason, how the hope of humanity was fixed on the ‘widow’s son,’ the youthful Spring Sun God, H-U-R-A-M, as 

his name was abbreviated, whose birth also constituted the resurrection of his father, Osiris, with whom he was identified. 

“The development of the famous Pythagorean triangle also forms the triangle that is the base of the Masonic Tau cross. The multiplication of the Pythagorean triangle by four gives the base for the Magian’s philosophy and develops the form of the Masonic apron just as worn today in the lodge room, it is the sixty-four square that I refer to and this square (our familiar checker board) also has hidden within it the exact geometrical proportions of the Gizeh Pyramid. 

“Perhaps the most interesting Egyptian cut I have is that showing Pharaoh invested with the triangular Masonic apron, holding in his right hand the grand emblem and the last grade attained-the Ankh cross-in Masonic Communication with one of that order, whose head is covered with a mask, representing the head of the god Thoth. Examination of the old Egyptian monuments, or pictures of such, reveal the fact that the apron is the badge of all the gods, kings, hierophants, and priests engaged in the rites of public worship. The apron of the ordinary celebrant seems to be a triangle of white cloth suspended from the waist in front and pinned at the comers to the tunic at each side. In the case of the Grand Master the apron is very elaborate in design. The figures represent the rising and setting sun in the lower comer, and the sun at meridian. The rays of the sun are so directed as to describe a regular procession of geometrical angles, such as seen on a Gnomon. Over this sun apron is worn the serpent apron, a modern Masonic apron as worn in lodge and chapter has descended intact in every particular from these ancient brethren of the square and compass.” 

Mr. Higgins explained that the secret of the apron resides entirely in its proportions and showed by a diagram that they were based on a triangle having an apex of fifty-four degrees and two bottom angles of sixty-three degrees each. He said that these two numbers were both eminently sacred Masonic numerals, belonging to the “Nine” or “Three times Three” series. He demonstrated that the proportions of the Egyptian Pyramids were all concealed in the same geometrical figure upon which the Masonic apron was constructed and from his cases of relics brought several amulet aprons that were true in angle or indicated by dots or indentations the true proportions. He displayed a copy from a Peruvian vase which showed a priest of the Incas carrying a staff with a six-pointed star in one hand and a Masonic apron in the other. This figure, which may be seen in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is displayed throughout the Andean ruins or modifications of the apron are run into borders around the Incan pottery. Perhaps the best example of the apron in America, according to Mr. Higgins, is that found on the statues and little clay images of the ancient Mayas which litter the jungle forests of Yucatan on the sites of the ruined cities. These images as he showed by specimens, are all clothed Master Masons in the same apron as the Egyptian kings and priests and point irrefutably to a universal knowledge of the secrets behind the square and the compasses. 

Figure 1: Illustration from page 19 of Ancient Freemasonry by Frank C. Higgins. 

“We see thus indicated throughout the world,” said Mr. Higgins, “the Masonic brotherhood, erected thousands of years prior to any civilization of which we may have any present record, to the same ever living God whom we worship as the ‘Great Architect of the Universe.’ ” 

Hogs, Goats, And Rodeo Food

By James C. “Chris” Williams IV 

I have to tell you that he has a knack of interrupting me at the most inopportune times. “What the heck are you talking about,” you say? I am talking about Brother John Deacon, that’s what. Pam had gone out shopping with her friend and since I was alone with about four hours to kill I thought I would sneak a little nap. Just as my head hit the pillow …. the phone rang. I thought about not even looking at the caller ID and then when I did, I really thought about not answering it, but I didn’t want to regret it later…. like I wouldn’t anyway. So, I answered and immediately regretted it. At first I was a little confused because I heard grunting noises in the background and without telling you what I thought was going on I will tell you that I almost hung up right then. “Brother Chris” he finally shouted huffing and puffing into the phone. Hold on a second.” “John, what are you doing,” I yelled back. As I listened it sounded like he was in some kind of a scuffle or something. Just as I was about to hang up again he came back on and abruptly asked, “What are you doing right now?” “Well, I was going to take a nap,” I answered. But after what I heard the last thirty seconds I don’t think I could sleep if I wanted to.” “Oh cut it out,” he growled. “Why don’t you come down here and help me.” “Are you kidding,” I said? “I am not driving five hours to see you on a Saturday afternoon.” “I’m not asking you to,” he growled. “I am down here at the Stock Show and Rodeo and I need your help.” I was instantly confused….which is nothing new. I knew our Rodeo was going on but John lived a long way from here so I asked, “You mean our Rodeo?” That got him to sputtering and spitting like he swallowed something the wrong way, “Gol durnitt Brother Chris, you are wasting my time here. I am hanging on to a huge ol hog that’s dang near as big as I am and I need your help.” I have to tell you that many pictures ran through my mind on my way down to the Rodeo Grounds and none were pleasant. When I got there it took me a while to locate John. He was in the swine barn and to my surprise he was actually in the middle of the show ring judging hogs. He never ceases to amaze me and once again I was. When he saw me he waved me down to the gate where I met him. He told me that he was glad I was there and he needed help with a problem child, “Follow me,” he said. He proceeded to tell me that he was a swine judge at stock shows and had been doing that for many years and also showed some of his hogs. I followed him to another barn way back in a far corner where he stopped in front of a trailer that had been backed into the door. Inside was the biggest hog I think I have ever seen. He looked up at me and gave a little grunt and just stared at John. “I don’t think he likes you much, John,” I said. “No kidding,” John replied sarcastically. “I have been trying to get this here “pain in the rear” hog out of this trailer into a pen for the last two hours. I have used up all the boys here and now they won’t help me. This hog is just mean. I know you spent time around livestock on the ranch and you were my last hope.” “John,” I said. “I am confused. This is a show barn. This is where 

they show livestock. This hog don’t look like he wants to be showed.” “Oh he’s ok Brother Chris. He just gets an attitude every once in a while. Once I get him out of this trailer and into a pen he’ll be alright.” “Yeah, right,” I said skeptically. “He looks like he has more than an attitude.” I had never done much with hogs …. mostly just horses and cattle but no hogs. I really wasn’t looking forward to this but I helped John fix up a makeshift chute that would head him into that pen once we or rather “if” we got him out of the trailer. Before we entered the trailer I suggested to John that we just use a come–a- long and pull him out. That got me a nasty look so I called Pam and told her I loved her and followed John into the trailer. I knew that one of the ways you “guide” a hog was to grab his tail and kind of steer him the way you want him to go so I decided I was going to handle that end of him. John eased up to the big guy who started to grunt faster the closer John got. John approached him like a Sumo Wrestler ready to clinch. What happened next, no one could have predicted. I want you to know, dear reader that a six hundred and fifty pound hog can move pretty quick when he wants to. Well just as John was reaching down to try to get him to stand up he shot to his feet and headed for the trailer gate at a high rate of speed grunting and squealing as he went. John dove and grabbed him around the neck like a bull dogger and I dang near missed grabbing his tail on the way by. That crazy hog shot out the back of that trailer at a full run squealing louder than ever with John hanging on for dear life and me ………well, let’s just say it was hard to steer him while I was bouncing off the sides of the fencing on either side of the chute and it was all I could do just to hang on. Everything was a blur and I could hear yelling and yes even some cheering as we were dragged …… yes dragged across that barn by that devils spawn excuse for a hog. Yup I was mad as he_ _ and when we got stopped, if we ever did, I was going to make ham and eggs out of him and then I was going to deal with my Brother John for bringing me down here in the first place. Well it seemed like twenty minutes had passed but it couldn’t have been more than forty-five seconds at the most, as fast as he was running, and then I bounced off a fence post as he passed through the gate into his pen. Then, as quick as it started…… it ended. I just laid there for a few seconds catching my breath and when I looked up I saw that unholy monster laying down as calm and as peaceful as anything. To my left was John who had released his death grip from that hogs neck and rolled over on his back breathing hard. I pushed myself up to my knees and realized that both my arms were scratched and rubbed raw from that seventy-five yard dragging across the swine barn – and the front of my pants was filled up with a mixture of dirt, hay, and pig manure. All the buttons on the front of my shirt had been rubbed off, and if that wasn’t enough I had lost one shoe and my hat somewhere along the way. As I finally got to my feet I became aware of the noise around us, and when I looked I saw a bunch of people gathered around the pen. Some were clapping and some were hootin and hollerin, but most were just downright laughing at us. I shook my head and cleared some of the cobwebs out just as John stood up. He looked around with a sheepish grin on his face and turned to me. He started to say something just as my anger surfaced again and I charged that mean mound of 

pork with the full intent on doing major damage. I really don’t know what I thought I was going to do to that huge blob of blubber, but I was so mad I was going to do something. I launched myself at him as John tried to catch me. I landed hard on top of him and started punching and kicking as hard as I could. After a few seconds I looked up to see him just calmly looking at me. I was totally out of breath and I just laid there on top of him sucking in big gulps of air. Finally John came over and picked me up and carried me out of the pen and closed the gate. People were still talking about our warp speed trip from trailer to pen, and one old timer stopped laughing long enough to ask us if we could get his hogs out of his trailer. He stepped back quickly when he saw the look in my eyes and John reached out and grabbed me. “Come on Brother Chris,” John said quickly. “Let’s go clean up a bit.” I was completely unprepared for the person that was looking back at me from the mirror. There was no doubt I was going to be plenty sore tomorrow. We washed up as much as we could and John offered to buy me some good old Rodeo food. Right outside the swine barn was a Texas BBQ stand where he bought four BBQ beef sandwiches and a half a rack of pork ribs. I thought we were going to sit and eat, but I was wrong. He grabbed the food and walked (with everyone we passed staring at us) over to a little stand that was selling roasted corn on the cob where he bought three ears which he added to the BBQ, and continued on a ways further where he bought two roasted turkey legs. After handing them to me, he crossed to the other side of the pathway to a funnel cake stand for three cakes with cinnamon, and then next door to a drink stand where he talked them into selling him a gallon of tea. There was almost too much stuff to carry as we started to hunt for a place to sit and eat. Finally, we found an empty picnic table, sat and dug in. It was all I could do to eat one of the BBQ sandwiches and an ear of corn. I don’t know what it is about Rodeo food but it just tastes sooooooooo good. I sat there patiently while John ate everything else. Apparently, Rodeo food was to his liking as well. As I sat there I could feel all the bumps and bruises starting to hurt and all of a sudden I felt like violating a couple of obligations with respect to the big guy sitting across from me. Heck I was going to take a nap and now I was beat up severely and it was all his fault. All because of a stupid hog!! I said, “John, before I get so sore that I can’t walk, is there anything you want to talk about to put in the newsletter this month?” “Yup,” he replied. “I sure do. There is something I have been running around in my head for a while that I need to talk about. I want to talk to you about a goat. “A goat? What do you mean a goat? I just got through with you and a hog. I don’t want to have anything to do with a goat. I am sick of animals right now, just stop it,” I said. He just shook his head sympathetically, gave me a sad look, and continued on. “You know Brother Chris, I travel around the State a bit and I sometimes get to see degrees being done by other Lodges and heck sometimes I get to work in some of those degrees. When all the Brothers are out in the fellowship hall eating and socializing before the degree there is always one or more of the Brothers warning the new Candidate to “watch out for the goat.” When I hear that I just shake my head in sadness. Can you picture this? Here is a man who doesn’t know what is going to 

happen to him who is most assuredly a little nervous who has been made to listen to a mandatory reading from the monitor which among other things asks him to open his heart and mind and receive the “light” that is going to be offered to him in his initiation. He is also told that there is no horseplay and that the degree is very solemn and serious. Heck everyone worries when they have to go through an “initiation” that they will be made to do something demeaning or be made fun of and to hear that everything is serious and without any games is a comfort to that candidate. And, then someone walks up to him and asks him if he brought food for the goat and his stress level goes up. And, when he is going through his degree and we want and need him to listen and absorb the words and lessons presented, he instead is thinking about a dang goat.” “I know what you are talking about Brother John. I have seen it myself. I don’t think the Brothers that do it mean it to be mean but it has the same effect.” “You’re durn right it’s mean.” You know we don’t ride goats or have anything to do with goats in any of the degrees. Do you know that the goat or “riding the goat” was started by anti-Masons to ridicule the Craft?” I must have had a surprised look on my face because he said, “It’s true.” “I read that there were men in England who had been rejected for membership in the Fraternity that made up stories about Freemasons “raising the devil and riding on his goat.” Even though it was completely false it was told over and over by anti-Masons and it really hurt our Fraternity. I also read that early Masons referred to the supreme being as the “God of all Things” Once again those enemies of Masonry used the first letters of those words to spell GOAT and claimed it was proof positive of their claims And then we have Brothers who are ignorant of the real meaning of the “Masonic Goat” who think it’s funny to have a little fun with the candidate by making him think there really is a goat. I think if these Brothers knew what they were doing to Masonry by continuing this they might think about not doing it at all.” Then he pulled a folded note out of his pocket and slid it across the table to me saying, “Look at what I found in a book that is an anti- Masonic book.” I unfolded it and there was a picture of a goat on its hind legs with a sinister look on his face and a poem called “When father rode the goat.” I decided to print it: 

When Father Rode The Goat 

The house is full of arnica And mystery profound; We do not dare to run about Or make the slightest sound; We leave the big piano shut 

And do not strike a note; 

The doctor’s been here seven times Since father rode the goat. He joined the lodge a week ago — Got in at 4 a.m. And sixteen brethren brought him home Though he says he brought them. His wrist WAS sprained and one big rip, Had rent his Sunday coat — There must have been a lively time When father rode the goat. He’s resting on the couch to-day! And practicing his signs — The hailing signal, working grip, And other monkeyshines; He mutters passwords ‘neath his breath, And other things he’ll quote — They surely had an evening’s work When father rode the goat. He has a gorgeous uniform, All gold and red and blue; A hat with plumes and yellow braid, And golden badges too. But, somehow, when we mention it, He wears a look so grim We wonder if he rode the goat Or if the goat rode him. 

“Well that’s a cute little poem Brother John,” I said. “But when you think about it, it really is pretty offensive to Masons or should be.” “Exactly my point Brother he said. “ Here we have had people bashing Masonry who have no clue what we do or who we are (and who don’t really care) who just wanted to tear down our Fraternity because of jealousy, or fear, or maybe even anger, and the worst part is that our own Brethren have perpetuated this ridiculous story by using it as a hazing tool.” I just nodded and he got real quiet and got a sort of pained look on his face. I said, “I didn’t realize it bothered you as much as it does.” He looked at me kinda 

funny and said, “As much as it aggravates me I was just realizing that my whole body has just tightened up and the pain is tremendous and I don’t think I can even stand up much less walk.” I don’t understand Brother John. I’m the one who got hurt the worse. I was being dragged …… you were riding.” “Riding, my foot,” he muttered. I was bouncing around like a rag doll on top of that monster.” “Well I don’t remember seeing you as I had my own problems to worry about,” I said laughing. “You do look like you’ve been rode hard and put up wet.” He pointed to my shirt and started chuckling, “At least I’ve still got my clothes on.” By then we were both laughing. I think the people walking by thought we were intoxicated. Not only were we laughing at each other’s appearance we looked like 100 year old men trying to get up and walk. I had to help John up and he almost fell twice which for some reason that I can’t explain both of us thought was pretty funny. We must have been a sorry sight walking back to the barn very, very slowly …….. trying to hold each other up. I left him at the barn leaning against his hog pen. I told him good bye and shuffled as best as I could towards the parking lot trying not to think badly of him. I got just about to the barn door and a thought came to mind. I turned and called to John and asked, “Hey John what is your hog’s name anyway?” He got a real goofy look on his face, shook his head, and said – “You are not going to believe this but his name is Jubelum.” I just laughed and turned away. What a perfect name for that mean old hog. I hope I can walk tomorrow. Ya’ll have a good month.