Usu Facit Perfectum
As I left my Scottish Rite Reunion nearly six months ago, I recall having an overwhelming sense of inspiration and wonder. My mentor picked my brain about what I had learned, and I had difficulty putting it into words. I learned so much drinking from that proverbial fire hose, yet I still knew I had so much more to learn. There was one thing that truly stuck in my mind, however, something that was not taught directly in the degrees, but something I gleaned from my experience watching them. I tried to articulate what I was thinking, but it only came out that what I had learned seemed to me to be all “Common Sense.”
It seems to me that having tolerance for others’ beliefs, faults, and missteps, acknowledging a sense of duty toward the relationships we hold dear, dealing with people with honesty and sincerity, garnering greater self-control over one’s desires and passions, giving to those who need relief and working to create a better world around me, being a voice for dissent when injustice to others is present, willing to sacrifice myself for the good of the many if the result is balance and harmony, recognizing the similarities between myself and fellow humans, giving no credence to differences that may cause disharmony, standing for what is right by standing against selfishness and tyranny, and being a kind, loving, and sympathetic person is all “Common Sense.” Unfortunately, my experiences in the “Real World” would indicate to me that none of this is indeed “Common Sense,” or as Brother Voltaire put it:
As I discussed this with my brother-mentor, I realized that what I was calling “Common Sense” was more of a “Masonic Sense.” I thought about the idiom, “Freemasonry makes good men better,” and realized that good men are those that already have this “Masonic Sense” before even becoming Masons. These degrees do not necessarily introduce anything new to the brothers receiving them, rather they expound upon and perhaps even prime that latent “Masonic Sense” already inside of them. These men were already living their lives as Masons; yet they did not realize it, for it was innate to them. To be sure, there are some men for which the Masonic degrees may inculcate new information, but I believe that most Masons who continue to stay active and do the good work are those who were already acting like Masons before receiving the degrees.
What Masonry offers for these people is a way to fine tune or hone those skills that they already have present within them. I’m not saying that only Masons or would-be Masons are good men, nor am I saying that Masonry is the only way to make oneself good. I’m saying it provides an education and means to better oneself. It is my belief, which I have discussed in My Spirituality and is very similar to aspects of Kabbalism and Brahmanism, that all human beings (and all material things) have within them a Divine Spark of the Deity (whatever Deity one believes in). Layers of ego, divisive categorization, selfishness, and xenophobia cover up the Divine Spark within humans. Like the Operative Masons who cut the rough ashlar from the quarry and shaped it into a perfect ashlar to be cemented into place, we must continue to chip away at our rough selves so that we may reveal that Divine Spark within us. We continue working at this, working on ourselves, discovering the commonalities between us and all life, unveiling the Divine Spark that connects us all, and realizing our true potential and purpose in the world.
We are not perfect beings by any means, but through continued practice that strives toward such perfection we may become better than we once were.
Speaking of practice, here I find myself in a new stage of my Masonic Journey, literally on a new stage. A week ago, I attended my first rehearsal for a degree at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Pasadena for our Fall Reunion in November. I will be performing as the Junior Warden in the 18th degree. This is awesome, because I was the candidate for the 18th degree during my Reunion last May, and the Junior Warden was one of the most impactful parts for me. We had another rehearsal yesterday and I almost had everything memorized, requiring only a few prompts, likely due to nervousness. I have not performed on stage since high school (other than Karaoke, which I have only been doing since 2009), so this truly is an accomplishment. I have actually suffered from paralyzing stage fright and have been trying to combat it for many years now. I will also be performing as the Count in the 28th degree and had my first rehearsal last Saturday. I hope to commit these lines to memory as well before my next rehearsal.
Although I am fearfully nervous, I am taking great effort to practice and work on these degrees to conquer this fear I have. I cannot thank my brethren enough for their vote of confidence, allowing me to take part in this endeavor. Truly, the support of my brethren allows me to work on this aspect of myself. This is one of the most important parts of Masonry, for how can we help others and better the world, if we are not the best that we can be, and it is through the support of the fraternity that we can accomplish such wonderful work.
As my good friend and brother says of Freemasonry, “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be worth it.”
This is my 13th post on My Masonic Journey and today is the 13th birthday of my eldest son, Mason. Last night, we had the good fortunate to share dinner with family at Buca di Beppo in Claremont. He is an amazing and wonderful boy. I cannot wait to see what he will accomplish in his life.