As I get farther and farther away from my date of initiation, I'm starting to see the Fraternity differently. I can get a little sad and nostalgic over my past steps in Freemasonry, especially those initial steps. All of us, at some point, get past the Masonic honeymoon.
I think most of you will get where I'm coming from. You start off, not knowing anything about Masonry. The excitement of the Craft is overwhelming. Since, Masonry requires the petitioner to come forward, he is the initial spark. I remember my first step came when I chatted with my grandpa about Masonry. He was never a garrulous man so, for me to learn this fact was eye-opening. (there are still things I'm learning about him.)
Then the whirlwind romance with Masonry began. I got my petition and started the process. I visited the lodge my grandpa's friend recommended. I loved it. The early 20th c. layout of the building was incredible. Then I visited a number of the brothers and found a home. I fit right in. The degree work started and I was totally impressed.
I met my mentor, Don, and found someone I could respect as well as learn from. I kicked butt in my memory work and discovered that I was a ritualist. Masonry was this thing that filled a gap in my mind and heart that I never knew existed. I was in heaven. I'd learn another piece of ritual and get super excited. This would lead me to read books, a little Pike, a little Mackey, a lot of Pound. My wife can attest to my library growing to several volumes of Masonic material. I just couldn't stop.
I went through the chairs. I bounced up chairs, learning and loving every minute. Even my time as Master was fun. Then I entered the downward phase from the high as Master. My lodge has the bylaws set to have the outgoing Master serve as the Lodge Education Officer and the outgoing Lodge Education Officer serve as Marshal to ensure some level of continuity in the line.
And then, my year as Marshal was done. My career in my lodge was now Past Master. That was it. Cue whatever the opposite of swelling music is. I sat in my chair at home and thought about everything that had happened in my near decade in Masonry. The honeymoon was over.
Although I was active in Chapter at that time, it still felt like the air had left the balloon. I felt like a left-handed monkey wrench. Was I even necessary to my lodge? I know that's a little self-serving but I do think like that sometimes.
I think we all get wrapped up in these things that affect our identity and take a lot of our time. I couldn't stop thinking about Masonry, even keeping me up at night. I spent hours in my car learning ritual. But, sometimes, I will sit back and think, "were those hours wasted? Did I really spend my time well?" I think those questions are important to ask, especially to keep your sanity.
Once you get past that honeymoon phase, you have to focus on maintaining the relationship, similar to a long time friendship or a marriage. Not everything is love and affirmation. Sometimes it's work, sometimes there's stress. Sometimes you get excited again for something you're doing together. But a lot of it is maintenance.
That's why I think we see a lot of guys fade out in five to ten years. It's not just that we need mentoring; it's not just focusing down at the newish Mason past his honeymoon with the Craft from the organization, it's also counseling the newish Mason that his attraction to the Craft will wax and wane. Sometimes Masonry is just going through the motions. Sometimes it's as exciting as hell as you discover something new. But it's not a climb up, it's just a rolling wave through your life. And that's actually Masonry's greatest power.
We can walk away from it for a time. We can put it on hold. We can come back to it. We can keep it on a low boil. But no matter what, Masonry's always there.
So, my advice as a guy who has passed that honeymoon phase. Just roll with it. If you need to take a breather, take a breather. If you want to chat with your brothers, go ahead and find out what they do to just keep going. Masonry is like a friendship or a marriage, you have to work at it to keep it strong and healthy.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.