I haven’t done it on purpose, but I realise that I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. I have to admit that I’m also writing with half an eye on the clock as I’m off to my Lodge meeting soon and must battle through floods and uncertain conditions to get there.
The fact that it’s Valentine’s Day is pertinent, though: I’ve been spending time with old friends recently and quite a few of them are having relationship difficulties – one in particular is coping with the breakdown of a thirty-year marriage and is struggling.
And this left me with two thoughts…the first was how very lucky I am to be in a quality, loving relationship (Thanks, Jo, if you’re reading this…) and the second was that I started asking myself again about how useful Freemasonry is to us in our everyday lives. It’s full of grand principles, we know that, and it has much to say about wider societal relationships and about how we treat each other but, like most Spiritual paths, the relationships it talks about are not necessarily personal ones. We hear of ‘disinterested’ love or care and this doesn’t mean that we don’t care but, on the contrary, it enjoins us to care over and above any individual considerations of personality, race, religion, etc., etc. In other words, we love and care for our fellow humans because we understand that we are one with them.
But what happens when it does get personal? How do we behave within our closest circles of association? And can Freemasonry help us?
Well, with half an eye still on that clock, I find that I’ve already answered my own question so I’m going to quote myself…
‘Level Steps,’ page 39:
‘As an Individual, let me recommend the practice of every domestic as well as public virtue.’
-First Degree Ceremony
'Masonic Ritual often reminds us of the inherent differences between our public and private lives. So much of our daily existence is public – our jobs, our hobbies, our social circles – that it is an easy mistake to think that it is our actions in these spheres that are the most important. It is not that difficult to win acclaim in the eyes of those who are not closest to us. Charitable activities, outward charm and beneficence are enough to gain the world’s approval. However, if we do not live to the same high standards in private – with our partners, our children, our close friends and relatives – who are we fooling? While the practice of public virtue may win for us a good name, it is only the practice of domestic virtue that will win for us the precious gifts of a clear conscience and an untroubled mind.'
So, on this day that is supposed to be dedicated to the Spirit of Love, perhaps we would all do well to spend a few moments thinking about the love we have, the love we give and the love we receive and be thankful for it. And, while we use our understanding of Freemasonry to deepen the love between all people, let’s also make sure that that includes those nearest and dearest to us.
What’s love got to do with it?