Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Article: Bro. Matt Gallagher, L.E.O. of Braden Lodge No. 168

Bro. Matt has again been so kind as to write another brilliant piece. He has recently been installed as the Lodge Education Officer for Braden Lodge No. 168 in Saint Paul. If you want a wonderful Masonic experience, visit Braden Lodge. You can visit their website or their newly established blog. Braden Lodge meets in the historic Triune Masonic Temple at 1898 Iglehart Ave, Saint Paul, MN on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.


I sat just left of the big chair in the East. I wore my most professorial outfit I could put together: a suit jacket over a dress shirt over a black tee, no tie, buttoned down, with blue jeans and sneakers. The look was more Greg House, M.D. than Noam Chomsky, but it served. I finished it off with a scarf around my neck and a pipe in my hand, which Worshipful Master Jesse Williams insisted I should hold tight-lipped in my mouth so I could nod professorially at all the profound thing’s he’d no doubt say.

I was an academic now. A learned man sitting in the revered seat of Lodge Education Officer, and holding the sacred trust of educating both young and old brethren in all things Masonic.

Okay, it was a bit of a send up. The costume did help me get into the mindset of my new role, but it was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to say “Yeah, I get the joke too.”

Here I am, not even possessing my one-year pin (which I’m fairly sure they don’t make), and I’ve been installed as L.E.O. of Braden Lodge. I knew it was coming, but when Jesse officially requested me to take the job I was suddenly nervous. What do I know about Freemasonry?

I even asked a brother, someone who would make a fantastic L.E.O., if he was interested in the job at all. No, he said. That’s something that he wouldn’t be ready to do for maybe another ten years. He didn’t know nearly enough about Masonry.

I had to admit I may have made a misstep.

But then I have to remind myself that it’s not really a professorial role, is it? It’s not me lecturing the brothers every two weeks on exactly what Freemasonry is, and how it should be interpreted, and to detail its nooks and crannies like a particularly wizened English muffin. This is all up for interpretation. It’s all up for debate. This isn’t the office of Orator. I’m not a pontificator. It’s my job to educate not by telling people what to think, but by making sure they have the resources needed to think for themselves. To me an L.E.O. isn’t so much the possessor of knowledge, but the gatekeeper of access to light. The L.E.O.’s emblem isn’t an open book, but a lantern, used to direct people to the knowledge they must seek out to complete their own journey.

And that I can do.

Yeah, I’m a bit of a poser, acting out a part and sitting in a chair much to big for me to fill, but some clarity came to me that very night when the Worshipful Master, set to give a 45-minute reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, leaned over and spoke to me.

“Sit in my chair, and hold this,” Jesse said, handing me his top hat; one worn by worshipful masters throughout Braden’s history. “And put it on,” he added.

And all of the sudden I was sitting in the east. And the hat even fit. And I sat upstraighter, and with more dignity. I hadn’t done anything to deserve the role, and to besure it was merely a ceremonial technicality, but for 45 minutes, I was master of Braden Lodge.

All chairs made for men greater, wiser, or more experienced than us are too big to fill. They were too big to fill even by these great, wise, experienced men before us. But no matter our qualifications, we fill the seats we’re given, because something in that seat of obligation fills us in return. And we grow bigger.

4 comments:

The Millennial Freemason said...

Bro. Matt,

You are truly a wise man and I believe that Braden will be the better with your guidance. I always go back to what Socrates is attributed to have said, "[t]he only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing"; we are all rough ashlars seeking to be made perfect. From one L.E.O. to another, you will do splendidly.

Nick

Millennial Freemason

Kevin LeQue said...

Great Piece Bro. Matt. I was truly a pleasure to ready. A source of further enlightenment.

Kevin LeQue said...

Sorry for all the type-ohs this morning.

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