Thursday, April 20, 2017

Being A Good Mason Is Its Own Reward

Originally published 8/21/15 on the Midnight Freemasons blog
 by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them." 

~Mark Twain
Polar Star Lodge No. 79, MO

As with many things, it's one thing to say it, and it's another to do it.  It's easy to say you're a Freemason.  It's easy to look like a Freemason--you put a sticker on your car, and you wear a ring.  But would somebody be able to look at your life, and the way you interact with the world, and be able to tell you're a Freemason?  Are you living up to the standard, or are you going to Lodge to be seen in Lodge?  Are you there to learn and participate, or are you there to collect medals and certificates?

Unfortunately, too many men misunderstand what Freemasonry is about.  They enter into it wanting to accomplish something, however, what they believe is important is covering their walls with awards, and themselves with titles, jewels and ribbons.  That's not the point.  The purpose is to learn something--to improve yourself.  To open your eyes and see yourself as an instrument of purpose, and the world as an opportunity for service. You'll find those medals and acknowledgements often go to those Masons that aren't really looking for that kind of attention--much to the chagrin of those who really desire them.  And I've got a great story to illustrate that point. 

I helped a Mason's daughter a few years ago go through her father's Masonry stuff.   She was a friend of my father's, and she had a trunk full of it, and had no idea what to do with it.  So I went to check it out.  I'd have to admit, I was surprised at what was inside that trunk.  It was filled with a lot of Masonic stuff, but there were a considerable number of Masonic awards, plaques, certificates, ribbons, medals, etc, including his 33rd Degree cap and certificate--still rolled up in the cardboard tube where it had been since he'd received it no doubt.  I was surprised to find that stuff moldering in an old trunk.  Those are the kinds of acknowledgements Masons proudly display.  I asked her how they had wound up there.  Apparently, that was his trunk, and that's where he put them after he received them.  He never hung anything up, never donned the white cap of a 33rd, or wore his medals and jewels--he just filled up a trunk in his garage.

I told her that was a pretty amazing collection of accomplishment to be hidden away like that.  This isn't an exact quote, but she said to the effect, "I remember him receiving some of these awards.  I know Dad was always grateful and surprised when he received these things, but he said it wasn't the reason he became a Mason.  He said being a good Mason was its own reward.  He didn't need anything else." 

His example is something we can all learn from.  If you're doing something with the expectation of being rewarded, then you're doing it for the wrong reason.

~Todd E. Creason

This is one of my favorite pieces--I thought it was worth another look.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Scottish Rite Friendships That Last A Lifetime

Preparing the stage and floor for a degree at the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (IL)
I ran across this the other day.  In the Valley of Danville, during our reunion weekends (spring and fall) between degrees, long-time members of the Valley will talk to the class.  They'll tell them their personal experiences in the Scottish Rite, they'll answer questions, they'll give advise . . . we even have one guy that does an impromptu comedy routine (I think he still does that).  This is an excerpt of remarks I made to the Spring 2015 class at the Valley of Danville (IL) as they prepared to begin their journey.

". . . so take a little time this weekend to get to know your classmates and the members of the Valley.  Shake some hands, learn some names, and make some new friends.  If your experience is anything like mine has been in the Scottish Rite, in ten years time, you'll realize you met most of your current best friends for the first time that weekend you went through the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville." 

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Freemasonry: A Family Tradition

I had the great pleasure last weekend of watching a friend of mine from my Lodge, John Halley, go through the Scottish Rite.  He brought his father with him.  His father had become a member of the Valley of Danville in 1971, and it was his first visit back since he'd joined.  They both had a great time, and John left a 32nd Degree Mason--like his father. 

A few days earlier, as Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), I'd received an email from a twenty-year-old college student interested in joining our Lodge.  The reason?  His great grandfather had been a member and he wanted to be involved in our Lodge because it was part of who he was.  When he was a kid, his aunt had arranged a tour of the building with one of the members of the Lodge and it had been on his mind ever since.  So we're going to help him carry on that family tradition.

I've told this story before, but one of my first experiences visiting another Scottish Rite Valley was shortly after I'd become a 32nd Degree myself.  I visited the Valley of Indianapolis Cathedral for their reunion.  While I was standing in a hallway, somebody asked me to take a photo.  I did, of four men standing on a staircase--the youngest was the lowest, and they got older as they went up.  It was the son, the father, the grandfather, and the great-grandfather--four generations!  The youngest was there to receive his 32nd Degree that weekend and they were all there to support him.

It's very common.  We have a nephew, uncle, and grandfather--all active members of our Lodge.  Our current Master had the distinct privilege of raising his own grandson several years ago.  That was something I'll never forget.  And a few years ago, a young man was raised in my Lodge, and afterwards, his father came forward and gave him a gift--his deceased grandfathers Masonic ring.  That was also an unforgettable moment in my Lodge.

For some of us, Freemasonry is moral and ethical improvement center.  For others, it's a place to be social and make new friends.  Some enjoy the Fraternity because it gives them an opportunity to give something back to the community, and get involved in supporting worthy causes.  There's no right or wrong way to view Freemasonry.  But for many, there's an added meaning to Freemasonry--it's a family tradition.  They are following in the footsteps of their fathers, their uncles, and their grandfathers hoping to share in that common desire to become better men.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sometimes Facebook Makes Me Sad

It's not the first time I've had to take a break from Facebook.  I've had to do so a few times before.  Sometimes I think about dropping it for good.  It makes me sad sometimes--between the whining, the yelling, the bragging, and the lecturing, I'm not sure what I'm getting out of it anymore. 

So I'm taking a breather from social media for awhile.  I've got some writing to do anyway, and don't need the distractions.  But I have a few things to say to the folks on Facebook--a little advice that maybe will improve the quality of your life.

I'm sorry your candidate lost.

Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but you've got to get over it.  In America, we hold elections, and the candidate that wins the election gets the job.  The rules are established in advance, and that's just how it works.  The last thing we want is for our elected officials to fail in their duties--nobody wins there.  So stop complaining about it, and learn to deal with it.  If you're not happy with the choices, then get off your butt and get involved in the process.  Knock on doors, raise money, help candidates get elected that share your values.  If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.  Complaining on Facebook solves nothing, and being nasty and spiteful towards people who don't agree with your views is called intolerance.

I'm sorry you got behind an idiot on your way to work this morning.

Do what I've been doing for the last thirty years.  Get up earlier, and leave the house earlier.  While you're out honking and making rude gestures as you try frantically and get to work on time, I'm sitting at my desk sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying some quiet time before I ease into my day.  You know how many times I've been late to work in three decades?  Zero.  Not once.  Why you make it so hard on yourself?

Get a grip.

I had to unfriend somebody last week, somebody I've known since I was a kid because she was offended by a meme on my Facebook page, and attacked me.  It was embarrassing . . . for her.  She got so nasty, I took the entire post down.  Not the first time I've had to do that.  It was a funny meme.  It wasn't mean spirited, or offensive in any way.  It wasn't in bad taste, it wasn't even political . . . it was just something I shared because I thought it was funny.  And it was.  There were fifty or sixty people that liked it . . . and then there was her.  She took it literally, and lost her mind.  The thing with humor, folks, is that it's almost always making fun of something.  The reason we enjoy humor, is that it gives us an opportunity to laugh at ourselves. This culture we live in that is so offended all the time is the reason Saturday Night Live isn't funny anymore.  This is the reason comedians won't book college campuses anymore.  There are too many people out there that are offended by everything.  It must be exhausting to be so upset about so many things ALL THE TIME!  I can't imagine . . .

So I'm taking a little break.  I do this when Facebook starts to make me question the future of the human race.

~Todd E. Creason
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