I went to visit my friend and mentor Bruce a few weeks ago for his birthday. He was turning 90 and does not get out anymore, so I figured I would come by and bring him his two favorite things – Old Crow bourbon and chocolate cake. Maybe they are not quite his favorites, but they are certainly things he enjoys, so I know he had a good birthday.
Bruce is one of the greats in our area and is known widely throughout the state as a master ritualist, as well as being someone who is good and kind, if sometimes firm with his direction. It was with great humility on my part that I agreed to take over for him when he stepped down last year as our district ritual instructor, and I am sure it took a great amount of trust on his part to turn it over to someone so young among the Craft. I feel honored to have this role and take it seriously, even if I do not have the chance to attend every event or visit all the lodge schools.
Brotherhood is made through taking an obligation and attending various rituals performed by the lodge. Friendship is built through shared experiences and a shared enjoyment of some aspect of life’s mystery. It is the integral of time spent together, engaged in some task or experience that both find similarly meaningful. Bruce has given me the Masonic ritual, among other things. I have given him Old Crow and chocolate cake. I am not sure it is a fair exchange, especially since I stayed around to help him enjoy both these things. But we have also spent numerous hours together enjoying Masonry in general, and that is something we have given each other.
The shared experience that the lodge gives us – all of us – brings us closer to each other. It makes the world a smaller place and creates community for those who might otherwise remain at perpetual odds and brings us into each others’ lives. That is pretty darned nice.
Whether you are enjoying a Bruce highball (Old Crow and Cherry 7-Up) with your brothers or the esoteric mysteries of Freemasonry, you are building something. That is what we are: builders. Let’s be sure to make it count. Visit each other and never let your more infirm brothers be at such a distance that you cannot greet them for a birthday or do something to try to lift them up.