If you came to upon this article expecting to discover the secrets of building the better fireplace or retaining wall… you have come the wrong way.
This is my attempt to counter the all the folks out there that are self-professed experts on Masonry, meaning those of us who practice the ancient art of Freemasonry. People like me that grew up with it as a part of our lives and embrace it’s teachings and tenants to try and be a better person and show our children what Masonry means.
For my part, Masonry was something that I experienced through my Great Uncle, William Yelland. He took the role of a Freemason very seriously, by not just becoming a brother in the fraternity, but by also becoming and officer in the lodge and, eventually a Worshipful Master for the lodge he was a member of. His wife, at the time, was also active in the Order of the Eastern Star, and many times I can recall them going to either lodge, for him, or Chapter, for her, together.
There was a gap in our family’s association with the Lodge, as my father did not join, nor did his father. Both were members of the Elks, which my opinion of would require another article by itself. The next person in my family line to take the title of Master Mason would be myself, and I was passed to that degree in September of 2008.
Seeing Masonry from the outside and then from the inside really does present a startling contrast. No, not any any bad way as people would like you to believe, but in a supremely positive light. Even though I had experience with Masonry through my Uncle and what he could tell me about it, that was not enough to prepare me for the transition from being a Non-Mason, to a Mason.
This does not mean that by becoming a Mason I was touched by any divine light, or went from being some lowly sinner to a shining light of hope to anyone. Masonry does not make you any more or less than what you are already or have the potential to be. But I will go into more of that further on. When you see what masons do and represent, you realize a sense of pride in being a part of something that is bigger than just you, you are now a part of something that represents history. Not just that of the United States, but a slice of world history.
What Masonry has done for me.
It is important for me to say that Masonry has not made me any different of a person than I already am. I have not gained any new wisdom or been given any secrets as to the location of the Templar riches that people seem to think we are hiding.
What I have gained from Masonry is a better understanding of who I am and what my role could be in this life. That in addition to answering to myself, and also need to remember that I answer to a higher power and it is my duty, as a Mason, to demonstrated to those around me what good can come from brotherhood. It has taught me to be mindful of those around me, and of my actions and thoughts towards them. As it is said, “Thoughts become words, words become actions.” So I try to keep my thoughts positive and my actions just.
To me, THIS is was Masonry is. That by being a good person, you find both personal and spiritual peace. Yes… these are certainly things I could find on my own, without belonging to a fraternal organization, but as part of this group, I associate with like-minded men and we can work together.
When I do something to help another, I do not advertise my Masonry. I never say anything like, “I do this because I am a Freemason.” In fact, I chose not to even wear a ring or pendant, because I believe that what you truly are is in your heart, and needs no external advertisement.
In short, Masonry “Makes good men better.” It teaches that all your actions are answerable to a higher power. To act in a manner that is good for all and to walk a path that is morally and spiritually right.
We are not a religion (we actually have people of ALL religions in our numbers), we do not worship satan or, as one person recently said to me, kidnap children for profit. But because we are a Fraternity with secrets (note that we are NOT a secret Fraternity.) people think that we are hiding things from them that MUST be evil or nefarious.
Masonry has been very good to me and my family. It has not made us rich, has not granted us any social power or given us an “in” with the national body politic. But is has bonded me with people that feel strongly about the preservation of the social values that make a family and a people strong. It has put me in a group of people that feel as strongly about living a just and good life as I do and wish to make the world a better place.