The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

Why I Love and Hate One-Day Conferrals

Goat herd in Yara, MustangMy first thought, on hearing about one-day conferrals of all three degrees or the same being done in the various¬†appendant bodies is to groan a little. I don’t like theist all. I am a past master and know the degrees well, but still at the end of the day, I am overwhelmed. Let me go on record and say, once and for all: one-day degree¬†conferrals are a bad idea. Period.

Make that a semi colon. Continue reading

EA Degree – Better the Second Time Around

Just last Friday, I conferred the Entered Apprentice degree on three worthy candidates. This was my second time getting to do this and I am really enjoying it. I would be telling a lie if I claimed to have gotten all the words right but at least I know where I messed up. If you have never committed a long string of words to memory before, I can tell you with all certainty that it is a difficult thing to do.

Actually, committing them to memory is not even the hard part. The hard part is speaking them and trying to get them exactly right in front of an audience. I can recite the words and get them just right when practicing in the shower or in the car to and from work, but it’s a different thing to get them just right in front of people – past masters, past district deputy grand masters, new brethren you want to set a good example for – and feel comfortable doing it.

Our treasurer, also a PDDGM, asked me how I thought it went at the end of the evening. “Better than last time,” I said. “Well, progress is a good sign,” he answered. “That’s what you want.”

The elder members of the lodge (elder in terms of experience and time in the fraternity) have been extremely supportive and have given me the encouragement I have needed to feel more comfortable delivering these speeches. I am now working on learning the FC and MM obligations and really appreciate this support.

Scheduling Degrees

Masonic Jewels laid out before installation IMGP0015

One of my roles as the junior warden  is to schedule degrees. If you have never had this task, you are in for a treat someday. I get to call the local Masonic elite and ask them to help me out by delivering lectures and playing some sort of part in these ceremonies. The degree nights are likely some of the most memorable the candidates will have in their whole adult life and it takes a lot of guys to put them on.

So far I have found that the process of arranging everything is kind of a pain in the butt but when it all comes together it is worth it. The step-limiting factor in arranging degrees is getting a lecturer. These members are few and far between due to the difficulty of memorizing such long speeches. It’s a tough prospect to learn a lecture but one that every lodge should aspire to foster in the members, as the lecture is something that cannot be dispensed with.

Once the lecturer is booked, I feel pretty good scheduling the date. Everything else seems to fall into place pretty easily. Our members are well-versed enough in the ritual that we can pull together a good team to confer the degrees.

At Cherrydale Lodge I just scheduled two degree nights (FC & MM) coming up next month and hope to have a third one (EA) stuck in there somewhere as well. Traveling through Arlington, VA? Let me know. We would love to have you visit, either for a stated communication (1st and 3rd Thursdays) or for a called communication (7 & 27 April, so far).

Second Anniversary

This night two years ago I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. My brother came up from Raleigh, NC to share the event with me. My first two degrees were interesting and mysterious but I had no idea just how interesting this night would be in comparison. My brother was able to step in for the Worshipful Master at the right time so he could give me that which had been lost. That was a special evening for me, a night I am sure to remember until my mental faculties are no more.

We should all think back to the nights of our degrees so we can remember how confusing it was to us as candidates but also how special it was. I remember being humbled by the spectacle of it all – the pageantry and effort, the number of people involved in an evening that was all about me. Well, me, along with another candidate, anyway. These men hardly knew us but were hard at work putting together a ritual to bring us into the fraternity.

What can we take away from all this? For one thing, the importance of mentorship, preparation for the degree and then explanation of it afterward. Also gentleness. How do we want our candidates to feel when going home that night? Should they be in awe of the mysticism of the ritual or should they be thinking of being scared, not knowing what was going on?

These are just some thoughts I had for this evening, reflecting on two years of Masonic membership.

Cheerrydale Lodge Pin IMGP0006_1_1

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