It’s that time of year when new officers are being installed in lodges across the state. I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous lodge installations, and it’s always a refreshing experience. Participating in these ceremonies serves as a reminder of the significant responsibilities that lodge officers willingly assume.
I understand firsthand that, amidst the nervousness of the moment, the full meaning of the words may not always be comprehended immediately. I strongly encourage everyone to take the time to review the manual, particularly the section that covers the installation of officers. Within those pages, you’ll find a wealth of beauty in the words, thoughts, and philosophy which provides a clearer understanding of officer duties and roles.
Regarding the Lodge Education Officer, we are reminded that, “The LAMP OF KNOWLEDGE reminds us that no Mason can possess the philosophy or instill the tenets of Masonry without sound education and life-long learning. Knowledge must enlighten the mind and heart for the application of our ideals.”
While there is, of course, more to explore in the manual, I hope these words resonate and emphasize the immense importance and responsibility carried by Lodge Education Officers. Their work is crucial, and I urge them to approach their duties with diligence and dedication.
In a recent installation, I was asked by a close friend to be a chaplain. Looking at the installation work, I saw that there were two different invocations to learn. I could have read either of them but did my best to memorize them. I did the work not only for my friend, but for my own personal growth. I must admit, it has been a while since I have memorized anything new, but it was a good exercise in mental muscle.
I realized long ago that Masonry is a perfect and supportive platform to stretch our comfort zone and better ourselves with the support of the Brothers around us. While there are many different styles and approaches, I know with every fiber that nobody really sets out to see us fail. On the contrary, I think it is quite the opposite. If there were ever a place to challenge our own individual comfort zones, it should be Freemasonry – an institution that specifically has an officer to help encourage our continuous growth and improvement and it should be an activity encouraged at every meeting and through all our endeavors.
The quote, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him,” is credited to Brother Benjamin Franklin. These words remind me of cherished advice from my grandfather: “Life is full of fleeting desires and vanities that can be taken away at any time. There is one thing they cannot take away, and that is your brain. Make your adventure one of the heart and mind.” This sentiment is also echoed by Victor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and is described as the last human freedom.
As Masons and educators, we must be willing to share what we learn. We must be open and patient enough to consider what others have learned. Tools and implements of architecture and beautiful ceremonies and lectures might be selected by our fraternity convey wise and serious truths, but would our excellent tenants be transmitted without the heart and minds of our members and an environment to support continuous growth? My hat goes off to lodge education officers and their continued pursuits of teaching, coaching, and inspiring lodge members everywhere to push themselves.
Keep your eye on our Grand Lodge calendar. At the end of January, we will be holding another LEO town hall. Regardless of your station in the lodge, you are welcome, and I encourage your sharing of thoughts and participation. There will be an opportunity to join remotely, or in-person in the metro area. Additionally, consider joining us at the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education (MCME) May 3-5, 2024, in Bloomington. It is a multi-jurisdictional education conference. This year’s theme is focused on improving ways of presenting and educating those that are around you.
In the meantime, I hope your holidays are bright, and that your life is an adventure of the heart and mind.