Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Man for Others

On May 8th, I visited Tyrian Lodge No. 644.  The evening was absolutely wonderful.  Over 150  Masons packed into Plum Creek-Monroeville Lodge to see Brother Byrl J. Johnson, Regional Instructor, receive his Fifty Year Service Emblem.  Brother Byrl has labored tirelessly for Freemasonry and is a mentor to so many of us.  His love for the Fraternity was the inspiration for my address that evening.

A Man for Others

"What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal?” ~ Brother Winston Churchill

Freemasons are seekers – seekers of wisdom and of truth.  We seek justice, peace and equality.  We crave understanding.  The principles of Geometry, which form the architecture of our basic teachings were developed as a way to understand.  To understand nature, to find order in what seems at first glance to be chaos; and by finding that order, come to a better understanding of the nature of the Divine.

The Craft has always tried to put itself – as Brother Churchill so eloquently stated – “in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and eternal.”   From the days of Pythagoras, whose teachings and discoveries form the foundation of much of our work, man has sought to commune with the Great Architect by gaining understanding of all that He has created.

The Masonic path – the quest to find one’s best self – is by necessity one that must be traveled alone.  There are two ironies in that.  First, while it is a solo journey, it cannot be taken without guides.   There is the guide who brings you into and through your Masonic Lodge and then, if you are lucky, there are other souls – kindred spirits – who open you to a greater understanding of yourself and of Freemasonry.

The other irony is that, through this personal formation – this incredibly self-involved act – one finds himself changed into a Man for Others. 

I have said before that the world needs Freemasonry because Freemasons are good, kind people.  We look to ease the burdens of others, to teach, to support and to improve everything that is in our power.  We are not perfect.  We make mistakes – sometimes large ones – but we endeavor at every turn to learn from them and to help teach others not to make the same ones.

As I look around this room tonight, I can honestly say that it is full of my personal mentors, Men for Others.  Some are role models of leadership and dignity, of character and right action.  Others are teachers who expect and accept nothing but my best.  Others still are spiritual friends whose hearts and souls emit a light that helps keep me on my path.  Each of us has someone like that.  He may be sitting next to you or he may have laid aside his working tools.  You may be that man to someone else in this room whether you’re aware of it or not.

I’d like to read a poem entitled “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole.

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.

After we close this meeting, we will be honoring some within our ranks by presenting Fifty Year Service Emblems.  Each of them has been a Bridge Builder for us.  Without them, and without the ones who came before them, this Fraternity would not be here for us.  They have labored, in their own manner, to shore up our foundation and ensure our future success.  They are Men for Others.

We need emulate these men.  We need to be willing to shoulder whatever burdens come our way, be it raising money for Masonic Charities, leading our Lodges, being ambassadors of the Craft and attracting new men or simply as a laborer who pays his dues and quietly wears the badge of Freemason.

As we leave this sanctuary tonight and go back into a world that is strikingly at odds with the peace we feel within these walls, we must each take what we have learned on our personal journeys and vow to use it in a very public way.  Be like your mentors and “make this muddled world a better place for those who live in it after we’re gone.”  In short, be a Man for Others.

No comments:

Post a Comment