Report on Feb and March 2019; Two Important Meetings

From WBro Damien of Devotion

February and March marked two important meetings at Devotion.

In Feb, Lodge Devotion reassembled for 2019 with a Full Open & Close. This short meeting was followed by a very sociable dinner at the Stingo Hotel, just a short walk away from the Centre. In March, we had a lecture on some of the lessons, symbolism and meaning of Freemasonry which developed into a discussion on the same; and what being a Freemason at the Collingwood Masonic Centre means to several members. We heard from old and new members including some of our EAs and FCs who strongly attended the meeting.

Our lecture in March touched on some simple esoteric examples within in ceremonies and Lodge rooms. You don’t have to delve into the Kabbalah to notice that during every Lodge opening the Inner Guard mentions “two of the four cardinal virtues”. Active listeners might wonder what the other two are. Some never learn. Again, you don’t need to be a scholar of Plato or Saint Augustine to know the other two (cardinal virtues) are heard in the Final in the First Degree. Knowing all four is esoteric knowledge and we’re exposed to it every meeting. Even the phrase, “The Craft” is esoteric. Unless you understand it refers to Freemasonry, you might think we’re a group of male basket weavers. Much of this you learn simply by actively listening to or learning ritual “that you may the better be enabled to distinguish and appreciate the connection of our whole system, and the relative dependence of its several parts”. Some will only come with independent study or working in small groups sharing common interests in aspects of Freemasonry.

Too often Lodges fall into the trap of being Degree Factories in a process often called the Masonic Waltz; 1,2,3 & 1,2,3, & 1,2,3 (Degrees) over and over. This is great for those (generally senior) members who love Degree work, but Degrees act simply as starter lessons, mainly bestowing a “Masonic Rank”. It might give birth to Freemasons but does not equip men as such, and certainly not to successfully run their lodges and develop successors – a critical and often neglected part of perpetuating and growing our Craft. They do not develop men as Freemasons and lodges that rely solely on Degree ceremonies are generally doomed to fail as even within degree teams – while they might be observed, esoterics and leadership are generally not taught. Observing Lodges who constantly do Degrees, at some point they simply burn (or bore!) out their members. The Masonic Waltz does not allow for diversity within our meetings to stimulate dynamic minds. Devotion tries to make sure we offer some variety within our assemblies, but more importantly hold some Regular Meetings where the focus is social or development and not Degrees. Degrees are a distinguishing feature of Freemasonry, a unique selling proposition (USP), an important vehicle, a teaching tool, to deliver the values of Freemasonry, but those lessons become embedded by contemplating, discussing and living those values, especially the fraternal aspect of Freemasonry. That does not happen within Degree meetings - they might represent a “sale” but will rarely make a lifelong “customer” engaged with Freemasonry and its system by living its values. At Devotion, we described that as a “rusted on” member who sticks with the Lodge through thick and thin and sees our Warrant handed on from generation to generation. Members are critical, but it is the Warrant which is the device which allows them to assemble. To hand on your Warrant you need happy members focused on developing the next generation, protecting them from external negatives and fostering their love of the Craft and each other. Testing your activities with the question; “will this contribute to handing on our Warrant to the next generation of equipped leaders who operate with harmony and engage the following generation” is a great test of a lodge’s planning, focus and culture.

Friendship, knowledge and wisdom are the engines of Freemasonry and they are not developed by a monthly meeting sitting through a Degree followed by a rushed dinner. They are developed by opportunities to spend time at, and outside, Lodge in friendly open discussion within a “circle of safety (see below). We were able to do that at both our February and March meetings.

Simon Sinek on Why Organizations Need a Circle of Safety

Why good leaders make you feel safe | Simon Sinek

Below is an extended YouTube version on Simon’s talk on the Circle of Safety