Practicing Freemasonry Brother-to-Brother

Photo of Grand Commander Ronald A. Seale, 33°

November-December 2010

Our Scottish Rite Journal under the watchful eyes of Editor Brent Morris is on a production schedule months ahead of the date you see on the cover. To allow time for its composition, editing, layout, and design means that the current issue of the Journal now in your hands is the result of labors concluded several months ago. Having a few days of rest and relaxation on the coast of sunny Florida in late September, I am now working on the November-December issue of your magazine. Thus, amid the gentle and balmy breezes of the sea and the sounds of surf on a warm and sparsely populated beach, I consider the time of approaching winter where the cold wind blows and snow and ice might be unwelcome companions for the season. It seems so remote and distant from my view right now!

The close of the year also brings with it the season of holiday activity. For many this is a blessing and a time of great anticipation and joy. It’s a time for the long awaited and eagerly anticipated gathering of friends and family so often separated by the many miles, busy schedules, and long continuing commitments. We look forward to full houses, shouts of children and grandchildren arriving home, wonderful aromas from the kitchen, and holiday rituals being played out once again.

And yet, for others, year’s end can be a time of loneliness, heartache, and even despair. Some have families and relationships that are fractured and separated by more than miles, with memories of grievances and disputes yet unresolved but constantly nurtured. For some, amid the evident and unsurpassed joy of others, there is sorrow remembering someone no longer here to bless their lives; a place once filled is now vacant with a heartache and void so deep that the pain is almost palpable. Still others face the uncertainty of a new year with concerns for their wellbeing and future—perhaps a medical procedure or test looms ahead or the bleak landscape of unemployment or the uncertainty of relationships.

Yes, the times of the Season can truly be a mixed bag.

What then does this have to do with our fraternity and why would I bring up matters personal and unrelated to the Craft? Because Masonry IS personal, and we are related through the initiatory experience. We have bound ourselves to each other through solemn obligations. For some, these are just words; for most Masons (including me), these are a covenant that guides my life.

We can find the esotericist who contents himself with study and debate about the finer points of Masonic symbols, the Masonic chieftain on his rounds of duty and responsibility, or the philanthropist who looks upon his charity only in terms of dollars raised and goals met. Each is thus content with the narrow limits of duty he has set for himself, and yet if he does not see the Brother or widow who sits alone as the evening shadows lengthen, he has not completed his novitiate. There remain lessons to be learned! I write not in criticism of any, but perhaps as a call to remembrance for us all.

Only a handful of members will know of whom I write. He was but treasurer of his Blue Lodge, not a Mason with many initials behind his name signifying past accomplishments. Neither did he wear the purple of our fraternity about his shoulders. His name was absent from the list of Inspectors General Honorary of this Supreme Council. Yet, throughout the year many Brothers, or their survivors, would attest with a smile to his welcome visits, his helping hand on household chores, his friendly offer of a ride to Lodge, his warm humor, his uncanny ability to bring a smile, and his outreach to those that the rest of us busy folks had let slip from the radar. To me, he was a Mason and that which I aspire to be.

Perhaps in this year’s end with all of its activity, we will find time to be thankful for our fraternity and for the truths which it espouses. And along the way we will practice those great principles of right living among each other—Brother to Brother.