Beginnings are always exciting, aren’t they? The first day of a new school year, reporting for work on day one of a new job, or even the first day of a major mile point in life—say, the first day of retirement, or of marriage, or even the first day as a parent. That last example? You can always spot the new dads in a hospital. They’re the ones sporting the large goofy smile, dark circles under their eyes, and a pocketful of cigars … yet they have not a clue about how their life has just changed.
I remember the first days of a new school year. Everything felt new, looked new, and smelled new. Fresh text books, unspoiled composition books, a new backpack, and even new shoes to carry me through the day. Remember all that? The excitement, the challenge, and the fresh burst of energy and enthusiasm. But set the clock forward two months, and let’s take a peek. The text books are showing some wear with yellow markings throughout, the composition books are frayed with a few pages just hanging on by a thread, the backpack is stained. The new shoes need some polish and are beginning to smell. And the new dad? Oh, for just one good night sleep! In the ordinariness of our days, when the novelty of new beginnings gives way into the drudgery of the everyday, it’s sometimes hard to find the extraordinary. To search for and discover something special in the endless progression of our days can often be a frustrating endeavor.
The French have a word for that sense of boredom or restlessness: ennui. Ennui is a sense of boredom or lacking the will to find something productive to do. The Good Book says, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” More in the vernacular, we might refer to not having anything to look forward to, to there being nothing worth becoming excited about.
Many of us still recall the initial excitement when we began our Masonic journey—standing in the West in our Blue Lodge, being instructed on how to properly wear our apron, paying attention to every word. Remember how “new” it felt? Or the pride when we left lodge on the night of our raising wearing the square and compass for the very first time, either on our lapel or in the ring on our finger. The dues card in our hip pocket for the first time was “official proof” that we were a full-fledged member—a card-carrying member. It all felt so new and exciting, almost like the first day of school. We could not wait for the next meeting, the opportunity to return to Lodge, and the chance to learn more and to make more friends.
Looking back over that journey, where do we find ourselves now? Have we stayed the course and remained faithful in our service to the Craft? Do we remain enthusiastic? Have we shared our Masonic light with others and mentored younger brothers in their Masonic travels? Most importantly, have we taken the time to be a brother to another brother and extend the helping hand of the Fraternity to those who have fallen by the way? Or, has boredom consumed us and we find ourselves just marking time? Unfortunately, I sometimes hear men say Masonry has nothing more to offer them and they have lost interest. They argue that it is not like it used to be in the good old days. There’s no future … nothing more to do … ennui.
This week, your Craft Lodge, Scottish Rite, York Rite, or Shrine will meet. There’s a chair to fill, a job to do, or simply a hand to shake. Will you take your place and experience a new beginning? Yet, again?