Robert Burns #243 Trestleboard
From the East
I, like I am sure many of you, have read a number of articles on Masonry. One of the common subjects, broadly speaking, of these articles is the symbols of Masonry. I recently read one that was several pages long in The Working Tools magazine (http://www.twtmag.com/) that was about cement and how it is produced, and how the different components of cement relate to the individual Mason, and how the production process symbolizes the improvement of men. Notably, at least in our jurisdiction, cement is not even one of the symbols we speak about, except very briefly when talking about the trowel.
Frequently, it seems, the individual symbols are analyzed, but the interactions and layers of meaning of more than one symbol at a time is not. I heard a passing reference in a Masonic podcast some time ago that has stuck with me and relates to this topic, which I would like to discuss briefly here. In the lecture of the First Degree, we speak of the rough ashlar being a symbol of man in his rude, imperfect state. One of the Working Tools of the First Degree is the common gavel, used to break off the corners of rough stones and to divest our hearts and minds of the vices and superfluities of everyday life. Finally, in the Third Degree, the working tool is the trowel, used to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection.
We use the gavel of self-improvement to remove what we see undesirable in ourselves. We amend that which is amiss. We learn to subdue our passions. By these activities, we begin to transform our rough ashlar, slowly, by degrees, gradually bringing it closer and closer to that perfect ashlar we see in Lodge.
Brothers, as we continue to work on ourselves in our Masonic journey, think also of how we relate to each other, and think of the trowel. We wish to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection to unite into one common society. Brothers, if our stones have not been worked, and are very coarse and with many imperfections, with many corners and protrusions, it takes much more work with the trowel to spread enough cement to unite us into one common mass, and the resulting structure, our Fraternity itself, will be weaker, even with all of that extra, otherwise unnecessary effort put in. The work we each do on ourselves, the smoothing of our ashlar by removing imperfections, not only improves ourselves, but also helps us to fit into our Lodge better, and makes our Temple stronger, and easier for us as a common Craft to assemble.
Brothers, we often speak of self-improvement, and we often speak of improving the Lodge. I submit to you that these are not two activities that are distinct from one another, but that in improving ourselves we strengthen our Lodge.
Finally, Brothers, a brief announcement. We will be balloting on Mr. Alex Boras on Tuesday the 5th, and, assuming his petition is granted, we will likely be holding a first degree on Tuesday the 19th. I encourage you all to attend, and help our Lodge grow.
WB Matthew Appel
From the West
So for this last month I was trying to think of the topic for what to write this year's Trestleboard on. Should it be on the history of our great Fraternity, tidbits to help grow our Lodge, or just what ever occupies my mind about Masonry for that month. Well, on the whole I'm still drawing a blank. But for this month I did come up with an interesting question. At the last meeting a few of the Brothers were talking about what it means to be a Mason and why we joined and why others should join.
For myself, I've found Masonry was a way for my father and I to be closer, it also let me be more connected with my grandfather. Its a way for me to help my community and to grow as an individual. So I'd like to ask you all to really put some thought into what brought you to Freemasonry, and what it truly means to be a Brother. Ours is a great institution. Not only for what it allows us to do for others but for how it pushes us to be better men. We are taught that Masonry is a progressive science and taught in degrees only. Do you feel like you have grown by a degree or two as an individual since joining Lodge? With a greater understanding of why we joined Masonry and what it means to us, it will allow us to focus our lodge on the issues what we want it to focus on. And will help us show others the light of Masonry by being more informed about what it personally means.
This is the question that has occupied my mind this month and I hope it gives you some food for thought. We all have a lot to contribute and with deeper understanding of ourselves I think we will be able to offer even more and show others the benefits of Masonry.
Bro. Josh Hamlin
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