Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Freemasons On The Move

My wife has a theory about why Freemasons cover their bumpers with fraternal emblems. She believes they would decorate their garages, their yards, or maybe their mailboxes with those fraternal emblems—if they were ever home.

There are many shows on television these days about Freemasons—you’ll see them on History Channel, History International, and Discovery Channel. Those shows always seem to focus on what goes on within the walls of Masonic Lodges, with varying degrees of accuracy. But Masonry is much more about what we do outside the lodge than inside, and that’s a story you seldom ever hear.

The work that Masons do on a national scale is well known—there are the Shriners Hospitals, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, the Scottish Rite Learning Centers for Dyslexic Children, and many more. About a million dollars a day is raised to support those charitable causes, but volunteers do much of the work. I guarantee you that right now, somewhere in America, a Shriner is transporting a child back and forth from a Shriners Hospital somewhere for treatment.

But that’s only part of the story. Most local lodges have their own projects going on too—everything from buying uniforms for the Little League team, to raising money for a community improvement project. Some lodges give scholarships to exceptional graduates at their local high schools. Some help out the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. Some help support local Veterans groups. The list of causes these little local lodges support is as varied as it is endless.

I’ll give you a little snapshot of what Masons were doing in my corner of the world today.

This morning, my lodge sponsored a community blood drive with the local blood bank, which we do about four times a year. My mother gave her pint this morning.  She was not a regular donor until she learned about our regular blood drives at the lodge--a pint at a time, she's heading into the gallon donor range.  One of our regulars has given six gallons, and I'm sure he doesn't hold the record by any means. 

Two of our members left the blood drive event early to help with an Illinois CHIP program sponsored by a couple other local lodges. The Illinois CHIP is a child identification program—we prepare kits for parents, free of charge, that include fingerprints, DNA, photos, and a short video clip of their child in the event of an emergency. And another of our members was with the York Rite in another local lodge, helping with a degree day, where they welcomed eight new members into the Royal Arch Chapter.

And that's a pretty light Saturday in my area, covering just a few local lodges within twenty miles of my house—and there were no doubt a few other things going on in my corner of the globe I didn’t know about. Now if you consider the bigger picture, you’ll have a better understanding of what Freemasonry is really about—there are hundreds of Masonic Lodges in Illinois, and thousands nationwide. That’s a lot of Masons, supporting a lot of different causes, in a lot of different ways.

Masons get around, and they believe in the things they do, and $4 gas isn’t going to slow them down any—I doubt $5 gas would impact them much. Freemasons spend a lot of time on the road. They don’t do if for the glory. There’s little reward. We don’t give out merit badges, but there is every chance you’ll get a free lunch or dinner if you help out—usually a hotdog or a BBQ sandwich.

So when you see that little square and compass on the bumper of a car during your daily travels, give them a little honk and wave. There’s a good chance he’s going to, or coming from something few people will celebrate, but somebody, somewhere will no doubt appreciate.

~Todd E. Creason

*originally published 2/20/11

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Week In Review 2/16/18

Good dog, you found it!  Bad dog, you chewed it all up!
Pretty quiet week.  I lost my Fitbit last weekend, but when I was home sick on Tuesday, my chocolate lab Daisy found it in the yard--and chewed it into tiny pieces.  That's how she rolls.  I find something.  I chew it up.  So I have a new Fitbit!

I have finished the first two chapters of the new book (still untitled) including photos!  My photographer Greg Knott was in Washington D.C. last week collecting a few more photographs for the project (and attending Masonic Week).  So it's rolling right along.  I think there will be 30-40 sections in total.

In case you missed the posts this week, on Tuesday, I put on a Valentine's Day piece many of you as Masons will be able to relate to.  And Thursday's piece got a lot of attention, too.  It is called "Brotherly Love Behind the Wheel" and reminds us that when we represent ourselves as Masons to the world, like on the bumper of our car for instance, we should always be on our best behavior. 

Be sure and check out the Tuesday and Thursday posts next week, too! On Tuesday, I have a piece going up called "Freemasons On The Move" I think you'll enjoy.  And on Thursday, a piece called "Joe Creason's Kentucky"  Joe Creason was a well-known syndicated columnist in Kentucky, and I'm often asked if we are related.  He was a pretty interesting guy.

And I've updated the "News" tabs--be sure and check out my upcoming dates.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Brotherly Love Behind The Wheel

The light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating man behind him was furious and honked his horn, screaming at him in frustration, because he missed his chance to get through the intersection.

As he was still ranting at the car in front of him, he heard a tap on his window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered him to exit his vehicle with his hands up...

He took him to the police station where he was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. He was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with his personal effects.

The officer said, ''I'm very sorry for the mistake. You see, I pulled up behind you while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him.  I noticed the Square & Compass emblem mounted on the car, the Knights Templar tail-light covers, the "2B1ASK1" bumpersticker, and the Shriner's fez in the back window, so naturally....I had assumed the vehicle was stolen.''

A few years ago, the Grand Master of Illinois said a funny thing at a dinner I was attending.  He was encouraging the Masons there to order Master Mason plates offered by the State of Illinois because a portion of the annual renewal fee supports Masonic charities.  Anyway, he said that since he'd gotten the Master Mason license plates for his car, he'd become a much more considerate driver.  Everyone laughed because they knew exactly what he was talking about. 

It's easy to become impatient behind the wheel, especially around the holidays when everyone seems to be in such a hurry.  But remember what your car says about you, and more importantly, what your behavior says about those things you choose to display on your bumper.  Many of us use our bumpers to express those things that are important to us--organizations we belong to, what church we attend, and even our political leanings.  If you decide to do that, make sure you're a good example of what those organizations and symbols represent. 

If you're an angry driver, maybe you're not the best person to advertise . . . you know?

~Todd E. Creason

P.S. Master Mason plates are offered by quite a few states, and they work much the same everywhere--they cost a little more, but a portion of the annual registration fee supports the charitable causes supported by your Grand Lodge.  Check with your Secretary of State to see if Master Mason plates are available in your state.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Valentine's Day M.I.A.

"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me."

~Winston Churchill
Studholme Lodge No. 1591, England

When I petitioned my Lodge back in 2004, my wife was concerned about the amount of time I might be spending there.  I told her exactly what I'd been told--it's basically one meeting a month, and the occasional pancake breakfast.  Five years later I was Master of that Lodge and an award winning Masonic researcher and writer of two books by that time.  And don't forget the blog I'd started that was just taking root called The Midnight Freemason--I named it that because I used to stay up half the night writing up pieces for it.  Of course I've added a second Lodge to that to which I'm currently Master, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine, Allied Masonic Degrees, etc. 

As I return from a five day trip to Washington D.C. for Masonic Week and realized today was Valentine's Day, I was reminded of just how much patience she's had over these last twelve years when it comes to the time I spend on the Craft.  And, by the way, that was my second "Masonic" trip this year--in June three of us from my Lodge drove to Washington D.C. with a memorable stop-over in Gettysburg, PA.

To say I've spent a lot more time being a Freemason than I thought I would in the beginning would be an understatement.  I didn't realize the impact my decision to join a "men's fraternity" would have on my life.  In fact, it has changed both of our lives . . . for the better!   I've become a better man, and my wife has wound up with a lot better husband than the one she married.  And she knows how important it is to me.  When I spend hours researching and writing, traveling, attending meetings, etc., she's been nothing but supportive.  And many times she's joined me on these trips, along with my youngest daughter.

So I hope all you Masons out there remember your wives today for Valentine's Day.  Remembered how much we owe them for allowing us the time to be involved with the Fraternity, and lavished them with gifts.  Without their support, we couldn't do all the things we do.  And we also have to be honest in admitting that Freemasonry is a lot more rewarding for us, than it is for them.

So think about that a little bit.  If you didn't do as good a job saying thank you on Valentine's Day, it's never too late to pick something up for her, or to take her out to a fine meal at her favorite restaurant.

I'll never forget what one of our member's wives told me not long after I joined.  She told me, "not all Masonic Widows have buried their husbands.  We just don't see them very much!"

~Todd E. Creason

I wrote this piece last year, but I did notice that tomorrow evening (Valentine's Day 2018) is my lodge's regularly stated meeting.  I guess I haven't learned very much since last year. 

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