Royal Masters, It's Your Time
Chadwick Burkes, PIM, KYGCH, Guest Author
Submission to the General Grand Council Education Committee
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Photo Credit: MIC John Bridegroom
To say we are living in a chaotic time is an understatement. To say we are living in a challenging time is also an understatement. Some say we live in an uncertain time, and while that may be true to them, it's not true to me. I am prepared. I am certain. I am a Royal Master.
I learned in the Royal Master Degree not to fear death but instead to wisely make use of the time I have. Simply "waiting for our current crisis to blow over" is not an option for me; nor should it be for you. In the Royal Master degree, Hiram Abiff tells Adoniram that the "thoughtful brain and skillful hand are useless in the grave" and that the dead "know not anything" because they are not part of "anything that is done under the sun". While that may seem depressing to some, I see it as the opposite - encouraging. I am encouraged to get out there and make a difference while I can; especially since so many others are not.
A good portion of what Grand Master Hiram tells us is taken from Ecclesiastes, and if you read the verses verbatim just prior to what is paraphrased in the degree, you are clearly told that you do not and will not know your hour of death. "For man also does not know his time / Like fish taken in a cruel net / Like birds caught in a snare / So the sons of men are snared in an evil time / When it falls suddenly upon them" (Ecclesiastes 9:12 NKJV). Since we are assured that we have no knowledge of when we shall "shuffle off this mortal coil" as Shakespeare put it, our only solution is to make the absolute best use of the unknown amount of time the GAOTU has given us. As a Royal Master, I'm going to use that time to help other people.
As of this writing, the world is nearing 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 and most experts agree that we aren't anywhere close to the "peak". Think about that for a second . . . Visualize millions of people, just like you, living their daily lives, and suddenly they are "taken in a cruel net;" a net that will either end their life or at the very least, change it forever. How many of those people were prepared to have everything instantly put on hold? How many of those people were prepared to change every aspect of their lives? How many of those people spent a lot of time thinking about what they COULD have done or SHOULD have done? You don't fit that category. You are a Royal Master.
While others are panicking, full of fear, and literally wasting this time in isolation or lockdown, the Royal Master sees this time as an opportunity and a reminder of the lessons he's learned: the value of time and the value of life itself. He sees this crisis as "an incentive to the industrious use of his faculties" and realizes that he should "labor diligently to complete that inner temple for God's eternal praise" and to "finish his tasks ere the Sabbath of eternity sets in". The Royal Master understands, without fear, and stands ready to "sleep in peace, as the night cometh when no man can work".
So I challenge you, Royal Master, to do what York Rite Masons have always done throughout history - to stand up and lead. The general public is currently drowning in fear, misinformation, and depression. Many people have no one to take care of them, feel completely alone and isolated, and don't know what to do. We, as Royal Masters, understand that it is critical during this time for people to bond together spiritually and emotionally, even though general society and the government seek to distance people as much as possible. We, as Royal Masters, will care for our Companions that can't care for themselves and then care for those members of the Public who need us. This is our solemn duty. This is our legacy.
We are called to care for others now more than ever. We must step up, without fear, and help and lead because no one else is going to. Please also visit www.MasonsCare.com and encourage others to visit as well. It is a site full of free resources for all people to ease the transition to working from home, make life more productive during this time, and most importantly - make life more enjoyable during this time. Each one of us can make a difference for ALL the Companions in our organization, and from there, our community and the world. Delay the gratification of having another scoop of ice cream, taking another nap, or watching another episode of Better Call Saul. You can do those things later. Our Families, our Companions, and our Communities need us now!
Go forth, Royal Master, and do what you were born to do and educated to do. Go and make crooked things straight. Go and reveal the riches hidden in secret places of darkness. Make every moment count by ignoring the panic, ignoring the spin, and ignoring the fear. YOUR trust is in God. Continue to do good things so that you may "Eat your bread with joy / And drink your wine with a merry heart / for God has already accepted your works" (Ecclesiastes 9:7 NKJV).
Go and help people today. You are a Royal Master. That's what you do.