Sunday, January 23, 2011

Are you a traveling man?

One of the most important rights and privileges of a Master Mason is his freedom to travel. In ancient times, this privilege permitted Master Masons to work and travel in foreign lands, unlike other craftsmen. This special privilege was afforded to our craft, because their labor was required in different locations depending on which cathedral was being built at the time. As Operative Masonry gave way to Speculative Masonry, this ancient right was retained and a Master Mason was allowed to freely travel from one lodge to another, even though he is not a member of that specific lodge.

In the modern day, "traveling" is the primary method by which a Masons expands his Masonic horizons, gains increased knowledge of our craft and meets new brothers. By visiting another lodge, a Mason gets to see variations in the work and gains insight into the different ways Masonic Lodges handle their internal business. This valuable experience will make the man traveling a better Mason and in return will make his lodge better by virtue of his experience.

For the past four years, I have had the privilege to serve as a Grand Lodge Officer, first as District Grand Lecturer and then as Associate Grand Marshal. During this time, I visited dozens of lodges in my jurisdiction. Each lodge had its own particularities, which I found fascinating. Here are some of the differences that you will find between lodges:

  • Differences in the "Work" (floorwork, additional lectures, different officers doing different parts, etc.)
  • How budgets are executed (Voting on standard items once annually, Masters discretionary funds).
  • How minutes are circulated (posted, emailed, read out loud, etc.)
  • Different lodge dress (Tuxes, business suits, come-as-you-are, Tails, Colonial Dress, Variant Aprons, etc.)
  • Different Programs
  • How candidates and new brothers are mentored
  • Lodge bylaws
  • How fellowcraft clubs, board of managers, temple building associations, etc. are handled
  • Much, much, more
Many of the superior differences in operations that I experienced in other lodges, I brought back to my mother lodge and helped to implement. Many of the programs that I implemented during my two years as Worshipful Master were taken from the best practices of other lodges. The majority of the improvements implemented at the local lodge level are the product of imitation after a brother has traveled to other lodges. "Traveling" is one of the primary methods by which we "improve ourselves in Masonry." Without it, your lodge and Masonry will grow stale. Unfortunately, I have met many brothers who have not traveled. Their only Masonic experience is their own lodge and their small circle of brothers. There are many brothers who sit as Worshipful Master, who have never even visited another lodge. It is important to encourage your brothers, from the youngest Entered Apprentice to the oldest Past Master, to travel. Here are some methods to get out there and to be a true traveling man:
  • Attend Blue Lodge Council or District Wide Meetings and meet other brothers/officers in your area.
  • Ask your lodge secretary for copies of local trestleboards to find out when other lodges are holding events and degrees.
  • Many lodges have websites and Facebook pages, check these out for information.
  • Meet brothers from your area at Appendent Body Meetings, such as the Shrine, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, etc.
  • If you're in the "line" of your lodge, personally contact brothers in other lodges that fill the same position and set up a time to meet them. These brothers will be your peers when you are in the East and are an invaluable resource.
  • Attend the meetings of your Grand Lodge, especially the night before. Grand Lodge events are filled with meet-and-greets and hospitality rooms, which are fantastic opportunities to meet other brothers.

Finally, "Traveling" is just plain fun! Brothers love to meet someone new and welcome them as a guest. So, get out there, travel some and have some fun. You'll be surprised at the adventures you will have and the friends that you will make!

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