Be Part of the Buzz
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey
Beehive (Public Domain)
'The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.' – Helen Keller
As Masons, we have been given a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols. We have heard this repeated time and again. We have listened to lectures during the conferral of our Degrees. We have seen the openings and closings of Lodges, Chapters, and Councils over and over. We have observed all these presentations, but have we SEEN them?
A symbol means something, but what that something is must be explained, learned, and understood before the symbol can take on a meaning. The Rough Ashlar and the Perfect Ashlar are good examples: they look like two pieces of stone, one just an approximation of a block, and the other a wonderful piece of work, ready for the builder’s use. A nice concept, but not the whole symbolism within the image.
They are the ultimate “Before and After” pictures. They represent both your heart and your mind before they have been introduced to Freemasonry, and after all the working tools have been applied to them. Life’s lessons, both secular and religious, have shaped you into the Rough Ashlar. They have made you suitable material for a Mason edifice, something that canT be made into a Perfect Ashlar, ready for use.
And now we take a step further and point out to a candidate that the prepared stones are a part of a bigger structure, that House not made with hands. All this from two rocks!
Part of your profession as a Mason is to lift your personal veil of allegory, to learn and understand the symbols of Freemasonry, and be the best Mason that you can be. Memorizing the ritual is only the start of your Mason education, just as memorizing the alphabet was the beginning of learning to read and write. Letters come together to make words; words come together to make sentences; and sentences come together to tell a story. Stories grow into books, and books into libraries.
But you need to take that additional step, that next step towards the East, towards the Light. You need to share your understanding with others. You need to be a part of that bigger structure: you Lodge, your Chapter, and your Council. Sitting at home alone, reading all the rituals to yourself, committing them to your memory, is not enough. Sitting in a meeting, watching what transpires but not taking part, is not enough.
Getting up and talking at a meeting, even in front of your friends and Brother, is not for everybody. But don’t let stage fright get in the way of expanding your knowledge, and the knowledge of others. Talk to one or two people before or after a meeting. Talk to them in the collation room after a meeting. Talk to someone in the anteroom before a meeting. Talk to someone over lunch or dinner. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
Remember the explanation of the Five Senses in the Middle Chamber Lecture: we are social creatures and gain the majority of our knowledge from social intercourse with each other. Talk it up.
Be a part of the buzz in the Beehive of Industry!