When was Freemasonry not facing troubled times? Masons have been surrounded in controversy from the beginning – yet we are still here today proving that Time, Patience, and Perseverance will accomplish all things.
In September of 1968 while serving in Southeast Asia, I received that call no soldier wants to get from the Red Cross. I had orders to fly home immediately because my father had passed away unexpectedly at 47 years of age.
As I was standing by the exit door of the Church after the funeral, several men I knew walked by and shook my hand. I remember vividly they all had tears running down their cheeks as they told me if I ever needed anything to let them know. I didn’t understand it at the time, but every one of those men who had just concluded my father’s Masonic funeral service had also lost a Brother. My family was clearly facing troubled times with the sudden and unexpected death of my father, but the entire membership of Cedarville Masonic Lodge was there to show their support.
I knew the Masons that shook my hand were leaders in our small community and well respected, but as time passed and I recalled the evening of my Dads’ funeral, I realized that those were the men that I wanted to associate with and especially needed at this time in my life. Those men lived up to their words over the years and were always there to help when needed, but especially provided much needed fatherly advice to me.
On April 18, 1970 I was raised a Master Mason. My grandfather and three uncles were present, as well as all the members who had participated in my Dad’s Masonic service. All of them in attendance have since passed on, but the events of the evening are still embedded in my memory. The thoughts, words and actions that they were willing to pass along to me have been with me since that time fifty years ago. While we shared the connection of the Masonic Fraternity, I only wish I could have sat in Lodge with my Dad. I am proud to be a 50-year member of the greatest Fraternity in the World.
There will always be troubled times in the Fraternity, but how we handle those times will determine the future of Freemasonry. We don’t need to live in the past, but we certainly can learn from the past. The answers from our forefathers to the future of Freemasonry have always been available in written documents in our Lodge records. We need to attend Lodge, get to know our brothers, read our Charters, review the Code, and the meaning of the Ritual, and stay true to the basic tenants of our great Fraternity – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth!
All Masonry is local, and we need to work closely with our Lodges to see that we continue to make a difference in our community. No one individual can fix the problems facing our Fraternity, but if we learn anything from the past…Masons made a difference in each of our lives and in their communities, and men wanted to be part of that Fraternity. It will take the collective membership to work together to ensure our Fraternity thrives long into the future!
James M. Williamson, PGM