Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vision Amazing

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample a kingdom down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration
Is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming
Unearthly, impossible seeming—
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising;
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broken,
A light that doth not depart;
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore to-day is thrilling
With a past day's late fulfilling;
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing:
O men! it must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry—
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the comers
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers;
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
And things that we dreamed not before:
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.

Ode - Arthur O'Shaughnessy

I originally set out to quote only excerpts of the above poem Ode, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, but as I sat at my computer and tried to edit it, distill it down to just a few stanzas that may apply to our Craft, I realized it just wouldn’t be possible. Poetry has been described as the perfect economy of words in the perfect order. In other words, if you add or subtract from it, it will be diminished.

Now I can find no evidence that O’Shaughnessy was a Mason which leads me to believe that he was not. And it is obvious that Freemasonry is not the subject of the poem – it is clearly describing artists, musicians and writers, but if you really think about it – allow yourself to get lost in the words – it can be applied to anyone working for positive change.

One man with a dream, at pleasure/Shall go forth and conquer a crown;/And three with a new song’s measure/Can trample a kingdom down. Throughout history and all around the world, Freemasons and their doctrine of the equality of man have played pivotal roles in trampling down oppression and defending liberty. Bolivar in South America, Garibaldi in Italy, Revere, Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Churchill – the list is almost endless. What is amazing is that where there has been a rebellion against injustice, men who were Masons have been there to lead.

The Renaissance is going to change the way we teach our Apprentices. No longer will we simply make them memorize ritual without explaining what it means. We are now going to teach men of our proud and glorious history so that when someone approaches them and says, “I see you’re a Mason. What do you people do,” he can tell them of our good works, past and present and feel proud. A breath of our inspiration/is the life of each generation.

Grand Master Sturgeon has made it easy for us to talk to nonMasons about who we are. We now have a brochure entitled You’re Invited to hand to men of good character. In it, they can read about where we came from, what we do, and why we are worthy of their time. If you haven’t handed one to a friend, you are doing him a disservice. Your brothers, uncles, sons, fathers, nephews and neighbors know you to be a good man and they probably know you’re a Mason. Share it with them, you’ll both be better for it.

And o’erthrew them with prophesying/to the old of the new world’s worth/for each age is a dream that is dying/or one that is coming to birth.  The Renaissance, or rebirth, is not without its resistance, for a rebirth implies the death of something else. Brethren, if you examine where we’ve been and trend it forward, it becomes clear that the old way – the way we’ve always done it – isn’t working. Drastic steps had to be taken to curb the membership decline. The brochure was one. The One Day Masonic Journey is another.

The old way – the way we’ve always done it – was to confer degrees over a three month period. There are Brethren who are up in arms that we are offering a “short cut” to the Craft. I suppose that if Ben Franklin, Elias Ashmole or other Freemasons of yore saw how you and I entered the Fraternity, they would call it a short cut as well since it used to take several months or more to earn each Degree.

The One Day Journey will allow men with limited free time to receive all three Craft degrees on the morning of October 30th. What happens next is up to your Lodge. Will your mentors invite them to the next meeting? Will you ask them to come to your next social outing? Will you do everything in your power to make them feel as welcome as you did? Or will you shake their hands, offer congratulations and stand up at the next meeting and complain that the One Day Class didn’t work? In short, will you be a stumbling block or a stepping stone?

They had no vision amazing/Of the goodly house they are raising/. . ./But on one man's soul it hath broken,/A light that doth not depart;/And his look, or a word he hath spoken,/Wrought flame in another man's heart.  Last night I was standing outside of Penn Brotherhood Lodge with a few other members when a young man approached dressed in his naval uniform. As he walked toward us, he removed his hat, tucked it into his belt and nervously said, “I am interested in becoming a Mason. Is there someone here I can talk to?”

Imagine the courage it takes to walk up to a building filled with men you have never met before and ask them to admit him to their ranks. As we talked, he shared with me that he only knows a few men who are Masons, but they are the best men he has ever met. Those unnamed Masons’ looks or the words they had spoken wrought flame in that young man’s heart to be sure.

Why should we wait around for men to find the bravery to ask us? I charge you all to take an active role in our shared future. Use the tools that the Grand Lodge has given us to enliven our Lodges and prepare tomorrow’s leaders.

Our history is written and it is glorious. The future is ours to shape. We can either resign ourselves to mediocrity or we can, with our dreaming and singing, shape a tomorrow whose suns are not yet high.

Great hail! we cry to the comers/From the dazzling unknown shore;/Bring us hither your sun and your summers;/And renew our world as of yore.  Let us renew our world, renew our Lodges and with vision amazing march hand in hand with unanimity toward a new and invigorated Craft.

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