Weather Notice

Brethren,

As you can probably tell, the weather has been testy for the last few days. I hope everyone is able to stay warm and safe, but please contact me or someone in the lodge in cases of need or emergency.

For those that were not able to make it to lodge on Monday, we had a fantastic discussion about the vision of the lodge and what we want to do moving forward. To grease the wheels for the discussion, I read a paper titled “Manning the Oars”, which I have provided below for your view.

Have a great weekend!

Fraternally,

Steve Higdon
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
FAAM, DC

Manning the Oars

I will be the first to admit that I know close to nothing about sailing. I have served in the military, but I prefer a fighting style that involves crawling through thick brush to flank the enemy instead of floating in a steel bucket in the middle of the ocean with thousands of my closest friends – waiting for someone to poke a hole in the side of my boat. To be fair though, I have certainly had the typical grandiose fantasies of hopping into a sloop and letting the wind take me to faraway lands.

In the days of old, large sailing ships were the primary means of intercontinental travel. Today, we might get upset over flight delays, forgetting to keep our passions within due bounds as we clench our fists over a few minutes of wasted time. Long ago, voyages used to take several months and there was almost no way to estimate an arrival time. The Weather Channel app hadn’t been introduced yet, nor was there an over-enthusiastic fortune teller predicting future weather patterns on our television screens. Storms happened at sea and there was almost no way to avoid them. The only option was to batten down the hatches, lower the sails, and pray for the best. When waiting it out wasn’t a viable option, the sailors sometimes had to “man the oars” and keep moving.

During the middle of the twentieth century, there was a large increase of membership in the Fraternity. Seas were smooth and the sails were always full of wind. Did you know that some Grand Lodge Constitutions and Codes allow for the use of handkerchiefs in lieu of aprons when there are not enough on-hand? While it may seem like an outrage now, I cannot even fathom having such a good problem!

Now, it seems as though several lodges across the country are like ships caught in a tropical storm. Most of the lodges that were formed in the “golden age of Freemasonry” are still around, and those lodges have gone from having over 1000 people on their rolls to a small fraction of that number. Part of it is due to an entire generation of “non-joiners”, but there is also something to be said for the cultural changes that have taken place in society.

Our lodge, like so many others in this jurisdiction and beyond, is caught in a tropical storm. Each year, our active membership becomes thinner and our hopes are seemingly lashed to the monthly roll call. It might appear as though we are just sitting in our boat waiting for both the seas to calm and the winds to become favorable, or for an inevitable swell to push the ship to the bottom of the ocean. Do we have any other choice than to bag the sails and hope for miraculous survival? My answer is a resounding “YES”! We can choose to take control of our lodge’s future by taking up oars and paddling. While it might require a little bit of extra work on the part of you all, our forbearers understood that nothing good has come from laziness or negligence. We cannot recruit new members to our sacred Fraternity, but we can certainly shift our focus onto other endeavors, such as making our lodge more appealing to both current and future Brothers.

What do you want to get out of the lodge? For our more seasoned Brethren, what do you miss about the “good old days”? Finally, what are you doing about it? Gandhi said to be the change you want to see in the world. I think now is the time to set the Craft to labor and man the oars.

February Stated

Brethren,

This is another simple reminder of the upcoming Stated communication, which is to take place on 6 February 2017 at the IOOF Temple. I am planning on installing our Treasurer, giving a brief educational lecture, and opening a discussion on the vision of Anacostia Lodge No. 21 for the future.

I have also updated the “Resources” section of the website, which is filled with reading and audio for Masonic self-study. The podcasts are perfect for commutes (and in my case, while washing dishes) and the blog articles and magazine issues span from light to heavy reading.

I hope to see you all at Lodge!

Fraternally,

Steve Higdon
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
FAAM, DC

Happy “Robbie” Burns Day

robertburnsRobert “Robbie” Burns Day is perhaps the most popular holiday in Scotland. It is also the birthday of the first Poet Laureate of Freemasonry. Brother Robert Burns is known for his boisterous opinions on “liberty, fraternity, and equality” in general, and many attribute these feelings to the lessons he learned in Lodge.  In any case, they certainly ride in tandem with Freemasonry’s teachings.

Brother Burns wrote at least seven Masonic poems, most notably “For Auld Lang Syne”, which is sung at the end of our own table lodges and festive boards. I’ve added another of his writings below for your enjoyment. More information about Brother “Robbie” Burns can be found in Episode 49 of The Masonic Roundtable and at http://www.mpoets.org/Burns.htm

Masonic Song: Ye Sons of Old Killie

 Ye sons of Auld Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I’ve little to say, but only to pray,
As praying’s the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from the muse you well may excuse,
`Tis seldom her favorite passion.

Ye powers who preside o’er the wind and the tide,
Who marked each element’s border,
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim
Whose sovereign statute is order,
Within this dear mansion may wayward contention,
Or withered Envy ne’er enter,
May secrecy round be the mystical bound
And brotherly love be the center.

– Brother Robert Burns

St. John’s Day

Brethren,

As several of you know, I have been blessed with a rather large family. As I helped my wife and children decorate our house for Christmas, I explained to them once again the Christian meaning of the holiday and the importance of being able to see through the lights, inflatable yard characters, and seasonal capitalism that seem to overcome the mind and senses this time every year.

We are even more fortunate this year, as Christmas Eve also fell on the first day of Hanukkah. This is an event that has happened only four times since Anacostia Lodge came into existence. It gives us, as Masons, an opportunity to speak to our loved ones about a concept that we know very well. While many people in the United States advocate for religious, racial, and cultural tolerance, I like to think that the Masonic approach to handling all our differences is to celebrate them! This is a lesson that can certainly benefit the profane world.

There is another reason to celebrate this week, and that is the recognition of one of our patron saints. St. John the Evangelist’s Day this year is tomorrow (December 27th, 2016). Some Masonic lodges hold special events on this day, such as attending a religious ceremony in their community, while donning their Masonic regalia. I recently came across an article that was first posted on the Midnight Freemasons website, and will share it below for your enjoyment.

If any Brethren, wheresoever disbursed, are in need during this holiday season, I hope they will not be so prideful as to refuse to request relief (in whatever form it may be).

Fraternally yours,

Steve Higdon
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
FAAM, DC

St. John the Evangelist’s Day, 1811

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

On December 27, Freemasonry worldwide celebrates St. John the Evangelist Day. On that day in 1811, a Friday, our Brothers at St. Louis Lodge 111 gathered for a feast and, as a part of the proceedings, sang the following song in celebration of the life of St. John. Especially for that occasion, Lieutenant Joseph Cross of the US Artillery wrote the lyrics to the tune of Lochabor No More, a folk tune claimed by both Scotland and Ireland.

Frederic L. Billon, a former Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, recorded the words of the song in his extensive Masonic Journal, even though the event took place when he was only ten years old.

Brother Billon’s dedication to history allows us the opportunity to celebrate this year’s St. John’s Day across time, perhaps for the first time since that celebration long ago, with our Brothers from A.L. 5811.

It was simply titled, A Masonic Song:

“O look at Creation! With a Mason’s bright eye,
The Grand Architect’s temple, resplendent in light,
Its wisdom, its strength, and its beauty outvie
The conception of Mortals — o’erpowers their sight —

The circle, whose radiance all space cannot bind
For its centre is Love — almighty in mind;
Our vision is darkened — then bend low the knee,
And in Faith, Hope & Charity ever agree —

Let the cadence of joy, steal soft in the ear,
While mystical love rises warm in each heart;
The bright jewels of virtue we’ll ever revere,
And nine times united, enshrine our grand art:

The Evangelist’s birth let our honors proclaim
In fraternity echo St. John’s brilliant name,
And remember our Brother who justly defined
The chant of affection — a Free Mason’s mind —

Yes, remember our Brother whose birth we now sing,
And remember the axioms he gave to our art;
Tho a Brother in darkness let love still upspring,
Oh! enlighten his soul — and pour oil in his heart —

Tha’ a Brother may err still our Father doth love
And his son will induct to the Grand Lodge above;
As Masons we’re bound to toil with each other,
“Then never forsake an unfortunate Brother.”

As spotless as White is the innocent mind,
As constant as Blue is the soul to the Light,
Whose effulgence ennobles the Free Mason’s mind
When the Red beams of love enrapture the sight

Then think of the angle, whose square is so true.
And the compass which guards and encircles us too;
Let not _____ vice our attraction e’er draw
Subjecting our passions to a Mason’s wise law —

Think not dearest sister, that pride can conspire,
To exclude your loved sex from the Lodges on earth,
We fear the bright charms — which are love’s holy fire
Would mingle our duties — to dissention give birth;

The blush of aurora enkindles the earth
E’re the radiant God sheds His light in the west;
Your virtues and charms in our hearts are a feast
And Masons are born that the fair may be blest,

Our sparkling goblets, let Temperance fill
With the juice of the grape to all Masons who are Free.
Their acceptance we drink with fraternal good will.
And in brotherly love may we ever agree —

May their bosoms be bright, their daughters be fair,
Their passions well governed, their hearts free from care
Their corn, wine and oil in plenty abound,
And their happiness last while the globe shall go round—

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest books, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island are both available on amazon.com.

Wreaths Across America

Honoring heroes

Brethren,

Every year, members of our lodge meet up at Arlington National Cemetery to lay holiday wreaths on the headstones of our fallen heroes. This has been a very informal event for Anacostia since I joined. This year, Wreaths Across America is going to take place on December 17th, 2016 and the wreath laying starts at 10AM. There are other events that take place at various times, to include the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the President. For more information, please visit http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/.

Our lodge’s point of contact for this event is WB Matthew Martini. Please let him know if you would like to meet up.

Fraternally Yours,

Steve P. Higdon
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
FAAM, District of Columbia

Passing of WB Fred L. Wineland

Brethren,

It is my solemn duty to inform you that our beloved brother, Worshipful Brother Fred L. Wineland (1962), has laid down his working tools and passed to the Celestial Lodge above. Details for the service are below. I have not yet received a request for a Masonic service.

Fred L Wineland
August 16th, 1926 — December 11th, 2016

Relatives and friends are invited to Fred’s Celebration of Life at the GEORGE P. KALAS FUNERAL HOME, P.A., 6160 Oxon Hill Rd., Oxon Hill, MDon Friday, December 16 from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at 11 a.m. at Providence-Fort Washington United Methodist Church, 10610 Old Fort Road, Fort Washington, MD. Interment private.

 

Fraternally Yours,

Steve P. Higdon
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
FAAM, District of Columbia

Stated Communication and Installation of Officers

Brethren All,

Your presence at our next Stated Communication is humbly requested. We will be installing our new officers for the next Masonic year.

Your 2017 Officers:
Master: WB Stephen P. Higdon
Senior Warden: Bro. Richard W. Morrison
Junior Warden: WB Geoffrey L. Newman, PM
Secretary: Bro. Paul M. Hays
Treasurer: MWB James T. Feezell, PGM
Senior Deacon: Bro. Adam Samuel Roth
Junior Deacon: Bro. Gregory A. Smith
Senior Steward: Bro. Juan C. Torrico
Junior Steward: Bro. Ralph Winnie Jr.
Master of Ceremonies: WB Anthony S. Murray, PM
Chaplin: WB Justin T. Russell, PM
Tiler : WB Matthew Martini, PM

New Location: We will be meeting at our new location on the sixth floor of the Odd Fellows Temple, located at 419 7th Street NW at the intersection of 7th and D. It is easily accessible by the Gallery Place and Metro Center Metro stations. Street parking is available for pay close to the location or for free after 6:00 pm on 5th and 4th Street between E and G Streets and on E, F, and G streets between 4th and 5th Streets.

Our next Stated Communication will be Monday, December 5, 2016 on the sixth floor of the Odd Fellows Temple, located at 419 7th Street NW, Washington, DC. A light dinner will be served at 6:30 pm and the Communication will start at 7:30 pm.

Fraternally,

Adam Samuel Roth
Secretary, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia
secretary@anacostialodge.org – 202.780.8821