Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heroes and Saints

The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.–Felix Adler

Brethren, during my visits this year, you have heard me remark on a variety of subjects all related in some way to the workings of our Gentle Craft. At Forbes Trail Lodge, the theme centered on the importance of not only attracting, but keeping good men interested in our Fraternity, and that if memories of what was, exceed dreams of what can be, we are all but doomed.

At Pollock Lodge, I talked about change; changing our attitudes toward each other, the Craft and the world outside. I also identified some typical obstacles to change and how to avoid them.

At Valley Lodge, through the story of Damon and Pythias, I talked about being Brother and the self-opening that is required for that to truly come to pass.

My visit to Bethel Lodge was just after my house had been burglarized and you permitted me a reminiscence on that which I lost, only to realize that – just as it is with our working tools - things aren’t as important as the feelings or memories they evoke.

My remarks at Plum Creek focused on making better use of our time by trying to live the rule of the twenty four inch gauge – making better Masonry by making better Masons.

Lastly, at Tyrian Lodge, I focused on the Giant Sequoia – comparing its biological adaptations to the sociological adaptations of Freemasonry.

What does any of that have to do with the epigraph? It’s quite simple. Each of those messages calls us to be either heroes or saints – sometimes both – for the Craft.

Let's hear that again. "The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light."

On its face, it talks about two types of illumination - one that is corporeal and one that is spiritual. It’s worth noting that nowhere is one way judged to be better than the other. As Freemasons we have to recognize that both are important. Whether we are being heroes by setting the torches that introduce new men to the Fraternity, or being saints by living the well-ordered life of the twenty four inch gauge we are doing important work in the quarries of Freemasonry.

Tonight Lodge Ad Lucem has heard its first presentation from its first Entered Apprentice. We have functioned in both ways for Eric, both in the kindling of a light within him and of corporately being a light for him.

Let us continue to recognize the importance of being both heroes and saints for this Fraternity we all hold so dear to our hearts.

I’d like to close with excerpts from Rumi’s poem A Basket of Fresh Bread where the poet illustrates the importance of both physical and spiritual action in our lives:

The Prophet Muhammad said,
"There is no better companion
on this Way than what you do. Your actions will be
your best friend, or if you're cruel and selfish,
your actions will be a poisonous snake
that lives in your grave."

Wait for the illuminating openness,
as though your chest were filling with Light,
as when God said,
Did we not expand you?
(Qur'an, XCIV,1)

Don't look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don't milk others!

There is a basket of fresh bread on your head,
and yet you go door to door asking for crusts.

Knock on your inner door. No other.

Stay bewildered in God,
and only that.

There is one
righteousness: Water the fruit trees,
and don't water the thorns. Be generous
to what nurtures the Spirit and God's luminous

Don't feed both sides of yourself equally.
The spirit and the body carry different loads
and require different attentions.
Too often
we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey
run loose in the pasture.
Don't make the body do
what the spirit does best, and don't put a big load
on the spirit that the body could carry easily.

I pray, Brothers, that those words may speak to you as they have to me and that you leave here tonight inspired to be the mighty heroes and humble saints that our gentle Craft needs.

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