The stillness of the temple’s Masonic library was shattered by the sounds of footsteps walking down the creaky wooden floors of the hallway outside the wood-paneled room. The 50-year member seemed puzzled to see the door of the library opened for a change. It is so rare to find anyone actually visiting the beautiful old room containing tomes of Masonic knowledge and history written by some of the greatest minds of the last few centuries. “Someone must be cleaning in there or using it as a storage room again.” The old man thought.
To the old man’s surprise and delight, he noticed a light was on as he walked by the room, but the room was occupied! Stopping dead in his tracks his feet left the creaky wooden floor of the hall and stepped into the deep plush blue carpet of the library.
There in the corner of the room with his feet resting on an ottoman, quietly seated in a beautiful old leather Queen Anne chair. The brown leather still in magnificent shape despite years of non-use was Pudge. It appeared Pudge’s mind was a million miles away lost in the contents of a dusty book the young man had pulled from the shelves of the Masonic library.
Pudge jumped in a startled fright as the old man exclaimed “There you are! I thought you dropped off the face of the earth! I have not seen you on social media in a few weeks. You have not been texting or returning emails. You have not even been here in the lodge for a couple of weeks. We missed you during degree work the other night.”
Still trying to catch his breath from the fright, his hands shaking, Pudge put his book down on his lap and sighed. “Yeah, I have been taking a little break from everything recently. I really needed to recharge and recenter my mind. I really think I am having a nervous breakdown. My stomach has been tied up in knots, and I feel nervous when I leave the house. I just cannot cope with all this negativity and constant arguing going on around me all time, so I have been spending a lot of time at home reading books, listening to calming music, and meditating.”
Pudge continues “Everywhere I look all of my friends are at each other’s throats over one issue or the other. I cannot turn on a TV or look at social media without people I know and love hating on each other, calling each other names, and threatening violence. It just doesn’t seem to stop. It almost makes me feel like my skin is crawling.”
“You can’t even seek refuge in lodge anymore. There are people being nasty towards each other at supper, or fighting afterward if we stop off before going home. I even notice it within a tiled lodge. I know there has always been bickering in stated meetings. Either we are spending too much on light bulbs about the proper way to do floor work. It has always been that way and it will probably never change but right now all of it just feels like fingernails across a blackboard. I just feel like I need to get away from all of this for a while or I will literally lose my mind.”
The old man smiled and slowly sat down in the chair next to Pudge. “I feel bad you didn’t think you could come to me for help. I want you to know you can always come to me to be a sounding board or if you need a shoulder to cry on. It is like I have told you, I think of you like I do one of my sons.” He patted the young man on his hand. “I totally understand, Pudge. Honestly, I honestly think all of this has been hard on all of us. I wish I could say a few magic words and make all this craziness go away but sadly I cannot. Hopefully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have been thinking about this, I do not think we have any more discourse or angst than we have had before, we just have it in our faces more. Enough twenty-four news coverage and up-to-the-minute news, via the internet we just cannot escape it. We cannot even go out for a walk or venture out for a cup of coffee without a device bringing it to your attention. It is like you can’t get away from it. Add to that everything else we have encountered this year and it is almost like shaking a can of pop and opening it while the contents are still under pressure. All the soda shoots out everywhere spilling over everything and if you get a face full of it.”
The old man continued: “I cannot change the world, but I can do my best to tidy up my little corner of it. Sometimes when a man, a Brother is caught up in the moment he is blind to his surroundings. It is kinda like tunnel vision. Sadly, he may not see he is on the road to destruction until he has reached the point of no return. Maybe if you happen to encounter one of these Brothers who has forgotten how to subdue his passions, Maybe let’s say has gotten caught up in the moment, maybe try to take him aside just the two of you, and try to whisper some good counsel in his ear. It is a gamble. He may understand what you are trying to say to him ad heed your advice, or he may cuss you out. Hopefully someday what you said to him will begin to make sense and if it is not too late, he can change course. All you can do is try to help your brother, but it is up to him whether he accepts it.”
He paused and said: “Not long ago I came across a Past Grand Master from California, MWB Russ Charvonia. He has dedicated his Masonic career to Masonic civility. The Brother has written on the subject and given talks about civility. Most of this material he provides was created long before our current situation, but I can sure tell you all of it sure hits home right now. He has taken all the material he has collected and he has created and he put it all together on a website https://www.masoniccivility.org/. It really has a lot of great information that one can use in lodge newsletters or present during your lodge. Some of it can even be used in the profane world. Kinda reminded me of a song my son used to listen to back in the ’80s, called People are People by Dispatchy Moods.” Pudge replied and laughed: “I think you mean Depeche Mode.”
The old man smiled and said: “Yes, that’s what I said. When I was your age I always remember hearing: “You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem!” Sitting here with your head in the sand like an ostrich, hoping it all goes away is a way to deal with the problem, but in no way is it a solution. I know it’s hard to stand in the line of fire between two opposing forces but like it says in the Volume of Sacred Law: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Pudge started laughing and said, “There is also another saying, “The pioneers get all the arrows”. Pudge continued. “Seriously, I get what you are saying. All of this does not seem like it is going away anytime soon. I guess instead of sitting at home in the dark cowering in the corner until someone else fixes all the problems I could at least put my fears aside and try to be the solution. If it’s to be, it’s up to me like they say. Let’s give it a shot. I hope I can count on your help and support on this. I have a feeling I am surely going to need it. “
“You know you can count on me.” The 50-year member said “I think between the two of us we can come up with some kind of program to help get this off the ground. The DDGM is a friend of mine I will see if there are resources the Grand Lodge can provide to help us with this. Who knows? They may even want to adopt what we create and introduce it to lodges across the jurisdiction.”
Pudge’s eyes widened with amazement “Wouldn’t that be something?” Pudge said, “Honestly, that would be nice if it happened but If I did this it wouldn’t be to make a big name for myself.” The 50-year member chuckled “I understand that. Your humility is legendary. Call me later in the week and let me know what you come up with. Just do not become a hermit. You are too young and not rich enough to become the next Howard Hughes.”
“OK, Bro,” Pudge said with a confused look on his face. “Right now, I am going to sit here and finish reading this book. I wish someone would have told me about this room long before now. But I have one question for you. Who is Howard Hughes?” The old man groaned and put his hand on his forehead. “Oh geez!!! I must be getting old! Tell you what, just Google him!” He paused and then said mischievously: “I’ll talk to you later. I’m going to go home and take some anti-aging pills as long as I remember what I was planning to do once I reach the house!”
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana’s Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco, Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne’s Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this, he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.