Three weeks ago, Brother Christopher Ford was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason at Copeland No. 390, NC AF&AM. Prior to that experience, he previously contributed here twice. Here is a third contribution by this young and eager brother, which he wrote prior to his raising.
Traveling the Level
Having been recently passed to the degree of Fellow Craft and having learned from my mentor a certain part of that wondrous work that seemed to roll off my tongue with the eloquence of a masterpiece, I had to search out more about those words. I curiously searched the internet and my growing collection of Masonic books, trying to find more knowledge about those words and how they will pertain to my travels. Upon my discovery of more knowledge on the subject, I felt led to give as freely as I had received that information.
I would like to peel back a layer of the beautiful truths that lay within the ritual of the Fellow Craft degree. The originators of the Fellow Craft degree took the liberty of injecting a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet when explaining one of the working tools of that degree. The quote I refer to can be found in Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, Page 4, Lines 80-84 and for the sake of this article I will reference the small portion that pertains to the degree which is as follows: “…to that undiscovered country, from whose borne no traveler returns…”. This quote holds many lessons to a Mason in his travels, which I will present having learned through my own study.
To give some context for this quote, it occurs within the famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy that Hamlet delivers to Ophelia while Claudius and Polonius hide nearby. Claudius and Polonius think Hamlet has gone mad. This speech by Hamlet from my interpretation refers to life and death and how the fear of death makes us weak. Death is but yet another starting point.
We must look at the level of time as a full life; taken in three parts much like our degrees are laid out, and the twenty-four inch gauge alludes to in its explanation. As we travel that level of time, we know that we are in a headlong race toward Death. Some levels of time are longer than others, but we all travel in the same direction… from the west to the east. I must then take from this allusion that we should make full use of what time we do travel to perfect our ashlars for that house not made with hands. We must touch those lives around us with our legacy, our beliefs, and our truths, as is made mention so many times throughout the degrees.
When examining that undiscovered country, we must remember that Shakespeare is speaking of what’s beyond the veil of death. Where in death we are borne to the fate of whatever lies beyond, never to return and give account to those living. Our personal religious beliefs give us guidance to what lies beyond death in this physical life, but I will not break this down into my beliefs, as Masonry teaches tolerance to religions. The puzzling mystery of the unknown causes us to be fearful of death, but we as upright Masons should not fear death as such, if we hold true the tenants of Masonry. If we travel upon the level of time as just and upright Masons, then we surely will have our place within that spiritual building. Work studiously while traveling brothers, taking in all you can, giving what you can and being all that you can.
With brotherly love,
Bro. Christopher Ford, FC
Copeland No. 390 AF&AM
Thank you Bro. Christopher Ford for you contribution this week!
If you would like to be the next contributor, send me an email. I hope you will.