Grand LEO May 2024

 In Retrospect … 

I can no longer believe in coincidence. Strengthsfinder tells me that I have a propensity for connectedness, and I’ll admit that I may biased because of that. None the less, I think it is safe to say that this is a bias shared by many in our fraternity. Throughout our teachings, we see many references to honoring those around us, and understanding that we are all one big family. This is perhaps most apparent when reflecting on how Brotherly love cements us. I am also reminded of important words I read long ago from Dr. Steven Covey, “Love the feeling is the fruit of love the verb.” With all the concerns, distractions, and noise of the modern world, these words are so important for us to remember. It was a natural time to bring these ideas back to the forefront, and I can’t help but think that the world needs Masonry now more than it has in a long time. 

Throughout the year, I have been presenting imagery of travel, courage, and inter-connectedness. I thought about lessons of the men that came before us – and attempted to show how our craft overlaps into these endeavors. From the extreme courage of our astronaut Brothers to the humble acts of modern-day cowboys roaring on their chrome horses, I tried to find a little something to catch everyone’s attention. I even traveled back to my childhood and reflected on, “Three is a magic number.” When you saw that, you may have found it to be a bit silly. Perhaps it was, but then again, its message seems strangely relevant today. As you saw in one of my articles, even Tesla thought so. Again, I can’t help but assume that this all falls into greater alignment with an artist’s plan. 

I’m writing this while listening to Marty Stuart’s “Hobo’s Prayer” and just heard the words, “Face the fact that you’re a circle in a world full of squares… Trading sorrows for tomorrows, now that’s the hobo’s prayer.” Deep. A lesson imparted to me by the kind heart of a Brother that thought I’d enjoy seeing Marty in concert. I might not have found him or those words otherwise. Referring to the Minnesota manual, I see that, “MUSIC teaches the art of forming concords, so as to compose delightful harmony … 

My travels led me to the door of the lodge. No one pushed me, and I asked to take part in its labors. In fact, I declared upon my honor that I voluntarily sought admission and that I had a desire to help my fellow creatures. I am reminded of this when I hear the Chaplain say these words, “will You be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds that we may each one of us practice, out of the Lodge, those great moral duties which are inculcated in it”. I try to remind myself of that every day – which is why I chose to have my “points in” on my ring. The world is complex, and it constantly presents challenges that chip away at us. … But we are in this thing called life together. 

To set things in motion, we must apply action. It is not enough to think about solving complex problems. As I have grown, I’ve realized that the problems are often too complex to face alone. Life provides us all with a current that pushes on us, tests our integrity, and forces connectivity out of necessity. We are given multi-layered recipes to ensure continued continuity. 

Traveling on the level of time, what is important to us should be the interactions we have while here. Historical figures I have presented in the conundrum were somehow touched by the craft. While not all Masons, you can find connections between them if you look hard enough. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is a true phenomenon, and I would pose that often the connections occur with 

many less indirections than six. The planet we live on is much smaller than you may think – especially today. 

These themes inspired me to add these words to our school of instruction traveling trophy many years ago, “This traveling trophy is now presented as a part of the schools of instruction. It contains tools you are already familiar with – the trowel and the common gavel. A small messenger bag is also contained within. It is tiled by sword. It is emblematical of the repositories we each carry with us everywhere we go. What will you invest in it? 

Keep traveling Brothers. Remember that the most important work of the Craft happens outside of the doors of the lodge room. Moving into the next year, I hope you will take a journey with me to reflect on the importance of striving to find balance between the body, spirit, and mind – the key to unlocking the ability to make these investments of the heart. Until then, I hope you make your travels an adventure of the heart and mind. 


Brad Phelps 

P.S. Given the space I’ve taken up with these thoughts, I will take a break this month from the Conundrum. Please look for it to return in the next ashlar. My last conundrum was accidentally cut-off during editing. I re-ran it in the eMason (along with the next question) – please look for it there. 

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