Who’s in Charge? Me? Really?

April 15, 2014

I’ve been busy…again…and I’ve been thinking…

It’s hard to say what I’ve been busy with…some very concrete things: I’ve put two more books up on Amazon. They’re nothing to do with Freemasonry, they’re both books aimed primarily at teenagers and young adults. The first is a play…I wrote it twenty years ago and it seems amazing to me that some of the kids I wrote it for and who performed it way back then are, first of all, adults and, secondly, parents themselves…I must be getting old…

The other one is fiction, an adventure story and, I realise, my first novel…so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself at the moment. I don’t think it’s going to win any prizes for great literature, but I hope it’s a good story… I got it up on the site last night and it’s already sold two copies: the first one was bought my old friend Paul in Kenya and the other one by my dad in France. Well, it’s a start…

Other things I’ve been busy with are harder to quantify…I’ve cooked some great meals; I’ve rediscovered the art of making gram flour fudge after a 30 year break and I went to bed the other night having spent the day whittling 8 wands out of willow from the garden and a rather nice spoon from a piece of dried out firewood… I have to say i was rather proud of the spoon…

And today I did some DIY…

Which leads me on to the thinking… I’m trying to prepare myself for my Lodge meeting next week. It’s a 1st Degree, one that was postponed earlier in the year because the Candidate had to have a back operation…He’s fit now so I assume we’re all systems go… There are a few other significant things about this meeting. First of all, it’s going to be quite big….we’re expecting over 60 people, apparently; second of all it’s my last regular meeting as WM and, third, we’ve got some bigwigs coming to present three Lodge members with Certificates: two for being in Masonry for 50 years, one for being a Mason for 60 years…not a very common thing…

So what have I been thinking?

Well, first of all, I’ve been thinking it’s a funny old business, being Master of the Lodge. Obviously, and rather suddenly, you’re in charge…except that you’re not really. Everyone defers to you; in committee meetings you’re expected to make decisions; in the Lodge room, nothing can happen unless you initiate it (no pun intended!) But…it’s not really like that…In committee meetings, you suddenly become aware that decisions and directions are decided and planned more than a year ahead so you’re picking up on what your predecessor did and you’re making decisions that your successor will have to pick up on in his turn…except it’s not even quite like that because all the Past Masters are in charge, really…except it’s not them…it’s the Lodge, represented and embodied by those Past Masters, which decides and if you’re there in the midst of the action for the blink of an eye…great…but don’t be fooled…your decisions…your actual personal presence isn’t that important. Your office is important and you’re important because you occupy that office for a moment…but it’s not personal…

Don’t think I’m complaining…quite the opposite. i like it. I think it’s important. The continuity and strength of a Lodge and of Freemasonry as a whole is maintained by this kind of thing.As soon as any movement or group becomes dominated by personality, it’s doomed because, eventually, the dominant person will be gone… i’m not going to cite examples…history’s full of them…you know what I mean…I like the fact that when I leave office and hand over to a new Master, the Lodge will be as healthy and as stable as when I went into the Chair…not because of any virtue in me, but because of the system that allows us to be in charge and not in charge, important and not important, the main man and just another guy all at the same time.

Imagine being a Freemason for 50 years. Or even 60. That’s 60 years committed to the values that Masonry holds dear: brotherly love, relief and truth; that’s 60 years of making the effort to fill your heart with those Masonic ornaments of virtue, honour and mercy.. I don’t know about you but I reckon that’s 60 years well-lived…

It’s amazing that those guys have 160 Masonic years between them… But let’s take the two who have been Masons for 50 years. Let’s say it took them 8 years from Initiation to going into the Master’s Chair…that means that since they had their moment ‘in charge,’ they’ve seen 41 other Masters come and go…Suddenly I begin to feel as transient as a mayfly…

And what’s more significant is that they’ve both been members of the Lodge Committee for 42 years  …now that’s continuity; that’s seeing things through…that’s what makes it work…and it’s 41 years and 6 months longer than me!

So who’s in charge?

Not me, that’s for sure!

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