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!
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
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.