Be a Pillar
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey

Public Domain

Nature's a temple where each living column,
At times, gives forth vague words. There Man advances
Through forest-groves of symbols, strange and solemn,
Who follow him with their familiar glances.
– Flowers of Evil, Charles Baudelaire

My Companion:

How many Masonic references can you find in this verse of poetry? Here are some:

1) The universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve
2) And Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are set about this throne, as pillars
3) As you advance within its mysteries
4) Veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols

All of these references are from our Symbolic Lodge; none seem to be Cryptic. But if you look beyond the words to the image they present, our lessons should leap out at you. If you walk through an old-growth forest and look up, the interwoven branches can look like a vaulted ceiling, with the trees themselves as the pillars. The leaves form the ceiling, and the dappled sunlight can look like the star-decked heaven from the EA Lecture. Different types of trees may be familiar to one person, but odd-looking to someone from another part of the world.

We think and teach about our symbols through our ritual, which should seem strange and solemn to the initiate, but is familiar to attentive Masons. The symbols seem vague only to those who do not delve deep into our quarries, those who merely sit and watch the work of others.

An arch without pillars, or at least pilasters, is called a door. While a door is an entranceway, it does not give any support to a structure. And when a door is closed, it is just a weak spot in a wall, providing no access at all. And a series of doors are merely an annoyance, serving no useful purpose.

The true function of a pillar is to support the weight above it. That weight is transferred to the pillars by the arch itself. Together they form a passageway, and a series of archways can form a hallway, a room, or even the crypt that supports an entire building.

Always remember that you should be a pillar of your Council. As you help support the weight of serving your Council, you should also remember that no pillar ever stands alone. You need at least two pillars to form an arch, and many pillars to form an edifice worthy of the name. Never try to work alone: even Hiram Abiff had assistants when he worked on his arch.

Don’t hold up your Council – support it!