Standing Outside the Fire
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey
Fire (Public Domain)
Life is not tried, it is merely survived; if you're standing outside the fire.- Garth Brooks
A Country & Western song may seem to be a strange place to find a Masonic message, but you never know where you will find inspiration or learning. The song’s theme deals with people who look down on those who have emotions, those who try to find love but fail and get burned. It talks about people being “cool” who have no scars to show.
But the metal that has never felt the forge’s heat or the blacksmith’s blows will never be tempered to withstand the stress a working tool is subjected to. It will remain a lump of ore, unfit for use. People who do not labor in the quarry, bearing the burden and heat of the day, have not been tested. It is only by going out there and trying that you gain experience; there is only so much you can learn from books. Working with a master is how a journeyman or an apprentice learns his craft.
The weak arm of the untrained Entered Apprentice is no match for the work-hardened muscles of the Master Builder. Age may make a hand unsteady, or take away clear sight, but a knowledgeable old worker will often accomplish more than a young, inexperienced one. This does not mean that a “new guy” has nothing to offer. He may have new insight into a problem, or bring new life to a Council. But first, he must learn what we do and how we do it. I’ve been told by several “old soldiers” that when they had “bright” ideas, their old First Sergeant would say: “That’s nice, but first learn to do it the Army way. We’ve been doing this for a while.”
Never say NO to someone’s idea, but put it in the fire to burn off the impurities. Use the smith’s tools to shape it, and temper it in the cool water of friendship. Keep the fire of desire burning brightly in your Companions, just as it burns in your heart. Therein lays the Light of Masonry.
But you got to be tough when consumed by desire;
'Cause it's not enough just to stand outside the fire – Garth Brooks