The Sands of Time

Photo of Grand Commander Ronald A. Seale, 33°

By Ronald A. Seale, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander

It was only three days ago at this writing that I spoke on the telephone with one of the Active Members of this Supreme Council. It was just another telephone call, one of many in a busy day. We exchanged pleasantries and some small talk, quickly took care of business, and said a perfunctory good bye. It was the last time we would speak—he died today.

And thus it was with feelings of shock, sorrow, and somehow being deprived that I received the news this morning of the death of the Grand Prior of our Supreme Council, Illustrious Robert L. Goldsmith, 33°, Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Florida. Shock and sorrow at the unexpected loss of a true Scottish Rite brother and deprived of the opportunity to say those things that I would want to say had I known that our last conversation would truly be our last. I didn’t have the chance to say thanks—for a job well done for this Supreme Council and particularly for the Rite in Florida, for the hundreds of kids helped through RiteCare centers in Florida, and, most of all for your friendship. You offered guidance and support as best you could, and I never got around to expressing my appreciation.

It’s funny how you put off saying things when you think you’ve got the rest of your life to get it said.

Brother Bob had a long and distinguished career of service to the Masonic fraternity. A transplant from Massachusetts to the sunny side of Florida, Bob worked as an oil distributor until his retirement in 2001. Widowed in 1991 by the death of his first wife, Evelyn, he married Joan, his beloved wife and partner of 10 years. Bob led the Grand Lodge of Florida as Most Worshipful Grand Master in 1983, was appointed Deputy of the Supreme Council for Florida in May 1988, and was elected Sovereign Grand Inspector General in October 1989. He well served this Supreme Council for years and was Grand Prior at the time of his death as well as chair of our Jurisprudence Committee. At his death, he was our senior Active Member.

Robert L. Goldsmith, 33°, Sovereign Grand Inspector General in FloridaPhoto:Robert L. Goldsmith, 33°, Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Florida

My thoughts return to our last conversation, and one thing stands out. In the course of that conversation, Bob remarked to me that no one knew better than he the “frailty of his condition.” That was prophetic indeed. In one sense, he speaks for each of us, and perhaps his last words are a lesson for all.

From our earliest days as Freemasons we are taught to consider the hourglass as an emblem of human life. We behold how swiftly and imperceptibly the little particles pass, and we are reminded that our lives are fleeting and that moment by moment time slips through our fingers. It is a reminder of the frailty of our lives, to quote Bob Goldsmith. In our Blue Lodges and throughout our Scottish Rite journeys, it is continuously impressed upon us not to waste life nor to take for granted the opportunities and relationships that are presented each day. We are reminded emphatically that those opportunities and relationships may not present themselves again tomorrow. Yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow only a hope, so it remains for us to live each day—indeed, each moment—to the fullest, not leaving obligations unfilled nor deferring what we are able to do each day.

Perhaps when we gather as Craftsmen we can all remember to be more intentional in our relationships with one another and more appreciative of the diversity, assets, and talents that each brother represents. May we never forget the obligations we have taken that above all bind us together as brothers. And while we may not “like” each other every day, we will surely respect each brother for having knelt at an altar and pledged himself to the same things that we hold most dear and sacred. We’ll give each other that much.

And finally, may we never take one another for granted, not for a single day—ever again.