At the start of the year, I asked, “What came you here to do?” I think about this a lot and I hope this question has caused you to take pause and reflect.
There is an old proverb that says: Smooth seas do make skillful sailors. As Masons, we often tell others “we make good men better.” In a recent Masonic Discussion Group Meeting at Cincinnati, the brethren agreed that fundamentally, all Freemasons are good men. This is a requirement to pass through our West gate. Brethren agreed that the real work of a Mason is to take the lessons we are taught by our beloved Craft and apply them to continuously improve ourselves. This is not easy-after all, it is uncomfortable to change.
When you think about it, good character doesn’t really win us any extra points in life. Our splendid traits and endearing qualities really serve no practical purpose when it comes to personal growth, exciting new levels of fulfillment and Light. Our positive attributes already exist. It is our negative qualities that give us the opportunity to be the cause of our own transformation. This is the quarry.
While there are many things that attract a man to Freemasonry, a goal of the Craft is to create positive change within ourselves, our communities and in the world around us. Change is always difficult and positive change will a/ways encounter resistance, obstacles and conflict. As Masons, we must learn to embrace these difficult situations and turn them into opportunities to chisel away at the rough ashlar with the tools of the Craft.
Consider a brother who lives in a small town with a modest house, a white picket fence and a garden that he tends faithfully. He is content with his simple ways; after all it is a good and tranquil life. At age 103, he peacefully passes on to the Lodge on High. To most it would appear that he has led an ideal life. But I ask you, in the end, can that man truly say that he did all that he came here to do? This is a question that we must ask ourselves. Was there any internal change during the man’s life? Was he a different, more evolved Mason at age 103 when he passed than he was at 30, or even 85? What impact did he have on the world?
Growing up, my father told me that some people can live the equivalent of 50 years in one day, while others can live the equivalent of only one day in 50 years. The great US President Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I believe this to be true. The white picket fence, the “simple” life-these things can all lead to self-satisfaction and a sense of complacency. We get comfortable and stepping out of the comfort zone is not easy. This complacency and desire for comfort can prevent us from doing the work of a Mason, from using the tools of Freemasonry to make the necessary inner changes and transformation. Then, when it is too late, we’ll realize that we have made no real impact upon this world. Or, even worse, we’ll go to our graves without ever knowing what we came here to do.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch
Yours in Brotherhood,
Robert J. Gregory