The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

Past High Priest – Finally!

Past High Priest JewelIt was a long year at Arlington Royal Arch but we did some good work. We lost a few members to death or suspension, and gained quite a number as well. Overall, we had a net loss of one, which in my book is a success. We also became more ritually proficient as a chapter and had some great programs.

All in all, I am happy.

The year was fun. We did some things we had not done in a while and maybe a few things we had not done before at all. As much fun as it was, though, and as happy as I am with the year, I am glad to have given the task to a very competent successor. The new high priest is smart and capable and I get the feeling that he likes to build on the success of his predecessors, so I feel great about the coming year and look forward in anticipation to where he will lead the chapter.

One of the things I have always felt about leadership in the lodge – or in any group or job – is that when you take on a position, you want to approach it with the mindset of being a steward for that position. Being a good steward means building in the right way and leaving it in a better state than it was when you got there. It is good to serve and then sit back so someone else can take the reins and make even more improvements. Another part of being a good steward is knowing that your duties do not end when you vacate a position. Numerous opportunities for mentorship and assistance will always be there.

Good luck and congratulations, Ex. Comp. Velena!

Royal Arch Jewel

imageI recently introduced myself to a brother visiting my lodge who turned out to be the Third Provincial Grand Principal for the Provincial Grand Chapter of Cumberland and Westmoreland in England. I gave him a pin representing my Royal Arch Chapter, as I do whenever I meet a traveling companion. This particular brother had so many badges and jewels that it was like meeting a high-ranking military officer. That is the tradition in England. They really do it up right.

At the end of our lodge meeting, the companion took the jewel pictured here and put it on my breast pocket. He had no more need for it, he told me, because he was about to ascend to the grand line from the provincial grand line, which would necessitate a different jewel.

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How I Came to be a Royal Arch Mason

A few years ago I decided to pursue the Royal Arch but I came to the group in a strange way. My lodge rents the facility to a RAM chapter, so I was familiar with the image of the triple tau but knew little about the group.

One night a meeting was called among some of the more active brethren of my lodge but when we got there we found that the building was already occupied by the Royal Arch members. We went elsewhere for our brief meeting but not before I caught a glimpse of some of the men who were there. They were guys I already knew and looked up to and many of the ones I did not know personally I knew by reputation. I decided then that this was a group I wanted to be part of.

Since joining, I have learned quite a bit about the order and am enjoying this pursuit. Getting to know the officers and members in my own chapter as well as the area chapters has been interesting because most of them were people I already knew to be masters of the Masonic ritual. Now it turns out that they are also masters of the Royal Arch ritual. Later I learned that they are almost all active in the Scottish Rite as well. Having a grasp on the operations of any one body is impressive enough, but many of the guys I know are experts on more than one level. It is very impressive and humbling. I am barely a master of anything, and I get to sit with these fine gentlemen who are more knowledgeable than I am ever likely to be.

So much of Masonry has been like this for me – following people whom I considered mentors, whether they knew it or not, and finding myself part of something surprisingly interesting and worthwhile. My brother (biological brother, that is) had advised me not to join any appendant bodies for at least one year and to spend that time in my mother lodge, learning and getting active. I followed his sage advice but knew early on that I would join the Royal Arch Chapter.

This year I am the king of my chapter. It’s different from being Elvis, at least so far, and I am excited about being the high priest next year. That’s when it will really feel like being Elvis!

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