What is your legacy?
By Most Illustrious Companion Robert A.L. Whitfield
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master, Grand Council of California

Robert Whitfield
MIC Robert Whitfield
PMIGM of California

I am a great believer in not reinventing the wheel. If you see something being done well, take note. If you see failure, take note. Build upon success. It is a solid foundation.

Webster's dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Legacy is not bound by age or time served

When we choose an endeavor to become a Mason, or even more specifically, to become a Cryptic Mason officer, we need to know that this distinguishment comes with an implied responsibility. People become expectant of our skill and/or effort.

A lack of that may lead to a reflection on the men who mentored us in Masonry, whose best efforts were in vain, and to you as leaders who failed to see a larger picture on those nights you occupied a chair reserved in your good name.

Almost 30 years ago I chose to become a Mason. When I reflect back upon my original Master WB Ed Bergeron, my first three coaches, and District Inspector, WB Albert Donici, I hope that I have reflected well on their combined efforts. Today, these men are in their 80’s & 90’s. I still think of them often and have said “Thank you” with every opportunity.

I have been an officer in some Masonic Line almost every day of those 30 years, including today, as High Priest of Doric Chapter 66, Royal Arch Masons, my 5th term over 20 years. Nothing has changed for me. The Standard of Excellence is all I care about. It is what I was taught as a young Mason from each of those men, and it is what I will endeavor to share with others.

These rules of life I have learned:

  • it is okay to ask for help
  • Never settle to be mediocre.
  • Step outside your Comfort Zone.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to be different.
  • Learn and acknowledge your mistakes
  • Learn from history, pass it down
  • Adapt to change, find a solution.
  • Dare to be the best.
  • Recognize your team, share success

Once I was a young man, who walked through a Lodge door of Masonry. I didn’t know anyone in the room, but a friendly smile greeted me and asked if I had a place to sit. Soon, I had several new friends and was invited to participate in small ways. The inclusion was what I came looking for. Their laughter and friendship were infectious. Because we were happy our small circle grew larger. These men had pride in what they did. They knew and learned their roles. They always showed up. They required me to memorize any roles I accepted with all seriousness, yet when the work was done, we all went out, dined and laughed together as friends.

Years later, I am now one of those men. My old friends, whether passed on or still around, are still my huge heroes. They each make up a part of the man I am today.

I am their legacy.

What is your legacy? Do you truly mentor a younger man, in age or station? Have you stood up from your comfortable chair to smile, welcome, and acknowledge a stranger in your midst? Did you invite him to sit with you? Did you introduce him to others and make him feel truly welcome and included? That stranger was you once upon a time, never forget that.

All of us stand on the shoulders of those men who came before us. The best of us listens and pay attention to their stories and instructions. This is how we carefully pick our teachers and role models.

Why Cryptic Masonry?

Masonry is like a beautiful book of many Chapters. In the Blue Lodge we learn of what was lost. In Capitular Masonry, we learn of ancient buildings and the Marks that substituted for written signatures handed down from father to son. We also learn of the recovery of that which was thought lost. However, there are chapters between these that bridge “what was lost, is now found”, and we learn of Preservation. We learn about the triangle of lights placed as instructed by King Solomon nearest the Altar. We hearHiram Abif giving valuable life lessons to Adonirum, in the event of his death. The most beautiful part is the Apron Lecture at the very end of the Select Master. This gives us the analogy of our life well spent. The apron, unstained, which we wear as Masons.

We learn of our apron worn within the confines of our Lodge Room, taking its symbolism home and worn within our hearts, in our daily life. This way we might know that when we take our completed life’s work, the rough ashlar, polished over time into that perfect ashlar, and present it to the Creator, He will take it and say “this is a beautiful piece of work, true work, square work”

Why would you not want to become a Cryptic Mason?

Leave your life’s impression by helping others become that better man because they knew you. Give them that solid foundation to stand upon. It will reflect well upon you. This should be your legacy.

Travel well my Brothers! I hope you enjoyed this small piece.