- It's been a while since I've been here, and I've served my year in the East. Apparently I didn't do as well as I thought because I am serving another year. I hope I don't have to get it right before I can relinquish the Oriental Chair.
I went to a leadership workshop a week ago, and I recognized a host of errors I've made as Master. As a result I'm indulging in a little self-flagellation, and if you choose not to watch, I can't say that I blame you.
I feel that, overall, I have let my lodge down as Master. I have two failings as Master that I am trying to work on.
1. I am not doing well at encouraging fellowship within the lodge - outside of our festive board.
2. I am not doing well at sharing my vision of my lodge which is:
- Provide fellowship and enjoyment to our brethren
- Perform superb ritual for our candidates – and ourselves
- Be a friend – to neighboring lodges, to fellow masons and to our community.
We lost Master Masons overall. Three moved on to the Celestial Grand lodge, three went NPD, and we raised three men. We initiated and passed two more men, including my stepson, but we are not able to raise them yet.
More importantly, three of my officers stepped out of the line. My Junior Deacon has since been charged with unmasonic conduct, so his loss is understandable. The Senior Warden's children are now adolescent, and his work load has doubled, so his loss was understandable, if not inevitable. However, my Senior Deacon has lost interest, and that is something I should have been able to prevent.
I have also been fortunate because of the three men we raised, two have remained active. One, the son and grandson of active Past Masters, has assumed a steward position; and the other has taken Chaplain, and has begun to learn the Master's Carpet.
We could not field a full degree team without help from nearby lodges for our last two degrees. We can't do degree 3, part 2 without help, and while we can get help on the day of that degree, we can't get the practice we need to avoid paper on the floor. As a result, that ritual work was not up to the standards our lodge has held itself to, and I feel I have allowed us to stumble. I would like to encourage the participation and enthusiasm we need to field full degree teams.
After six years of publishing the Trestle board, the changes in postal regulations, along with other stresses, I stopped sending out a printed mailing last October. We are restarting it this month, with help from my Sr and Jr Wardens. I failed to ask for help when I needed it.
We are trying a member of the lodge for unmasonic conduct for the first time since 1894. I was his defender and counseled him against acting out, but my efforts to help him failed spectacularly.
Fortunately it wasn't all bad.
I did not shirk any ritual work, and I performed that work well. Not perfectly by any means, but I did perform it well. More importantly, my lodge also performed well, and our first and second degree work felt like magic.
My predecessor began a lodge celebration of Washington's Birthday with a wee dram of rum, that we enjoyed among ourselves. Last year I expanded this and held a Festive Board, which was mildly successful, and didn't lose too much money. Last week we had another Festive Board, which was held after a full morning of Scottish Rite degrees and it was wildly successful, recovering last years losses and setting us ahead for next year. But more important than the financial success, both of these helped cement the bonds of friendship and fraternity among everyone who was there - men from 50 - 100 miles away, from 15 different lodges. We all laughed, ate well, drank well, and went home smiling. More magic.
Two brothers came to our lodge and did lectures, and we have since offered them Honorary Membership in the lodge.
Several members of the lodge have stepped up and gone above and beyond, and watching that is very heartwarming.
Looking this over, maybe I'm more pessimistic than I should be. Most of our ritual was superb. Visitors and members enjoy our functions. And, most importantly, I have a lot less to do with our performance than I want to think I do.