One of the benefits of being a Master Mason is to travel to other lodges. On May 28, 2015, I attended a degree at a lodge other than my home lodge for the first time in my Masonic life. Not only was it another lodge, but it isn’t even a lodge in my district. Mind you, we only have two other lodges in our district. This lodge is maybe 10-20 minutes east of my current lodge given time of day for travel and traffic. In fact, it is a lodge I actually have been to often, because it is where my son, Mason, goes to for DeMolay. The candidate being raised was actually one of my son’s DeMolay brothers. A really good kid who has helped my son out tremendously.
I knew my lodge was scheduled to be dark this night, so I told him that I would try to make his third degree. However, I had not returned my proficiency for my own third degree yet, so I have not been made ready to travel by myself as a Master Mason. I asked some of my brethren if they would travel with me to attend this third degree, as I needed someone to vouch for me. Several of my brothers were more than happy to. I even asked some of my brothers from another lodge in my district and were in my Scottish Rite Reunion class if they wanted to attend. I thought it would be excellent to make a strong showing of support for this young brother.
On the night of the degree, I was running late and wasn’t certain which, if any, of the brothers would be there to vouch for me. Thankfully, when I arrived, my Worshipful Master, Secretary, and Junior Deacon were already inside the lodge room, as well as my two Scottish Rite Reunion brothers. I wasn’t sure what to do. I greeted the brothers of the lodge I was visiting, informing them who I was. They told me to sign in the register, so I did. Then, my lodge’s Secretary came out and told me to put on an apron and fill out a visitor form. So, I did. Then, when I tried to enter the lodge I was stopped by the Senior Warden. He asked who was vouching for me. I told them my lodge’s Secretary was inside. So, the Senior Warden went to his lodge’s Secretary and returned promptly saying the Master of my lodge was here and to join him. PHEW.
Not only was this my first time at another lodge, but it was my first time seeing a third degree since being raised myself. Being on the other side of it was amazing. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the candidate go through all the steps that I had made just months prior, albeit in a different lodge room with a different set of brothers. Regardless, it felt like a renewal, as my Worshipful Master told the candidate later, “It’s like retaking your vows every time you see it.” I’m sure with each time, you see something knew or have a better understanding of something.
There were some very interesting differences between the degree performed at my lodge and this one. First, it seemed so much longer than I had remembered, and there seemed to be information in the lectures I didn’t remember hearing before. I found out later from my Secretary that it was a Long Form ceremony, and he hadn’t even seen one in five years. I can see why some might choose to do a Short Form version. We didn’t break for refreshments in the hall until after 10pm. Second, this lodge made use of audiovisual equipment to accompany the lecture. That had such a wow factor for me. I would like to see my lodge make use of something like that. Third, there were so many presentations for this brother. I’m not sure if it was for him in particular or something they always do. He really made out with some nice swag. They also performed one of the presentations in a particularly ceremonial way that I found very intriguing. It was something like this.
This brother is not yet 21, as he still is involved with DeMolay, yet several of his presentations were for petitions to Scottish Rite and Shrine. Now I understand the need to petition brothers, and those new Master Masons are ripe for the picking, but I kind of saw this in bad taste. The poor young man stood there not really knowing how to respond. He just smiled and nodded. I spoke to him later and told him how I had recently been raised and joined SR only a few months later. I suggested that he take his time and learn the Blue lodge first. He said that was his plan. Like I said, he’s a really good kid, and it seems he’s got a really good head on those shoulders.
I’m really thankful that I was able to attend his raising. I saw his father and great-uncle in the audience. I couldn’t help but think about the future and seeing my sons raised to the Sublime degree. I wondered why his father didn’t participate in the ritual. My Worshipful Master suggested that if he was in it, he may not be able to pay attention to the experience of watching his son be raised, as he would be concentrating on his part. I understood. He did participate later on, as did I. I couldn’t believe it when they called upon me to participate. All of us visitors, except my Junior Deacon became part of the ritual. I wondered if that happened often. Do visitors participate in other lodge’s rituals? I hadn’t really seen it in my lodge, except when hosting OSI or something like that. At the time of this degree, I hadn’t even participated in a ritual at my lodge yet. I had practiced, but I hadn’t actually done anything, except tile a meeting.
Well, that was my first experience as a traveling brother. Since then, I have traveled to a St. John’s Day Feast at Culver City-Foshay Lodge, Education Night at South Pasadena Lodge, and the stated meeting for the Southern California Research Lodge hosted by the South Pasadena Lodge. I have the travel bug, and I intend to do much more traveling. I hope to start a travel club, perhaps calling something like…
Hopefully, we’ll be traveling your way soon. Send me some information about your lodges, meeting days, etc. I can’t wait to meet you, brethren.