I am a big believer in the philosophy that perfection is not an achievable endpoint, since for most of us, perfection is unobtainable, at least in this world. I like to think that perfection is a journey of an almost alchemical nature. The journey is what is important here, or more properly, the journey becomes the goal.
The honor of being elected to a second term allows me the ability to build on our past achievements, while avoiding the pitfalls of being complacent. To put it in a more humorous way, I have a second year to commit an entirely new and creative set of mistakes.
As I look upon you, Brethren and Friends, I recall the first Masonic function I ever attended. My attendance was prompted by my good friend, VW Alan Schneider. Alan suggested I might enjoy meeting his brothers at Harmony Lodge, and as there was a free dinner involved, I decided to give it a go. It put me in mind of going on a blind date, actually.
Now, I have a great respect for blind dates, set up by mutual friends; that’s how I met Ellen, my wife. Ask her for the details of the story, or me for alternative facts.
To continue, as I arrived at Harmony’s collation, I didn’t know what to expect. I guess I was expecting, a sort of a posh London’s men’s club with Cognac and leather stuffed chairs, and a library of esoteric volumes, munching on fillet mignon with truffle sauce and asparagus with almonds glace. Of course I did not subscribe to the Kooky Internet belief that they would also be plotting the takeover of the world, in between puffs of their Havana Cigars. What I found was quite different. I found a group of guys, obviously enjoying themselves and each other’s convivial company. I recollect the dinner consisted of shrimp chow mein, and I think veggie chop suey. The leather overstuffed chairs, cognac, and esoteric tomes unexplainable were absent, as were the plans for world domination. On a side note, if you knew how difficult it is to plan a barbeque for a bunch of Masons, you would know that plans for global domination are simply not going on.
However, something amazing did happen in that room, something happened to me. It was transformative, I wanted to be part of this friendly group. I liked the way they showed real brotherly love to each other, and just like that, I found a home, a family of sorts. As I said, it was transformative, like I now realize Masonry can be.
What drew me in to Masonry, the spiritual essence, the standing together of moral, like-minded individuals, of Gentlemen, of Brothers. It was this that drew me in, certainly not the veggie chop suey.
Why am I telling you this? I wish to let you know that to grow as humans we must become aware that each moment can be a transformative experience, an opportunity for change and molding of that most obdurate of elements, oneself. Is it easy? No! Our Most Worshipful Grand Master, quoting Thomas A. Edison, said, “The reason most people don’t recognize opportunity when it comes, is that it presents itself dressed in overalls and work boots.”
This labor takes years, sometimes. As Danny Thomas said, it took him 25 years to become an overnight success. You may have heard the great Soccer Player Lionel Messi quote him.
To my Brothers in the Lodge, work on yourselves, towards perfection. As I said, it continues to be a journey, rather than a destination. While you are on your journey, to perfection, do not neglect your duties and the details that comes with being an upright man, and Mason.
I am proud of my Lodge Brothers, and of their successes which breathes life into Harmony. I am proud of the great work our officers and brothers, our Committed Past Masters, our ritual director(s), RW Larry Schlesinger, Treasurer, and RW Hugh Ripton, our wonderful secretary, have completed. But like the great cathedrals of old, Our Labor here at Harmony Lodge, and indeed within the Greater Good that is spoken about in the Tenets of our Fraternity, must be as a team, and must continue unabated.
Officers, and Brothers of Harmony Lodge, I depend upon each of you, my Brethren to discharge your duties, as you should. Depend upon the Master to lead the Lodge for the good of all.
This I pledge to do, and want you to promise in return, your efforts and your determination to recognize and utilize those daily transformative moments to evolve.
I wish to quote from the poem Sea Fever, By John Masefield, as a way of explaining why being the Master of Harmony Lodge means so much to me, personally.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
I have been warned to keep my remarks brief (some people will undoubtedly say “well, that is too late to do).
In conclusion, I wish to thank the RW Spiro Triantifilis, who graciously relinquished his customary right to speak last, to allow me to speak my thoughts.
I wish to thank my friends, and Brothers, both within and those not yet in Freemasonry who have honored us at Harmony with their presence.
I wish to thank our Brothers from other lodges in the district, who have taken time from their busy schedules to celebrate with us at this installation.
I wish to thank our officers for the fine non-chop suey collation, and everyone who helped with the preparations and (HINT) clean up.
Most of all I want to thank my wife, for encouraging my commitment to Masonry.
God Bless you all, may God bless our great nation, and may God bless our brave men and women who stand ready to defend us.
If you have questions or would like to join us in our ancient fraternity, you can do so in one of many ways. You can submit questions or inquiries from our website’s contact us page; you can pay us a visit at our lodge in Whitestone or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our webmaster at email@example.com at any time.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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