The Disappearing Past Master
By R W B David Lynch – Deputy Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Illinois
When I was a District Deputy Grand Master, I noticed that in many of my Lodges after the Worshipful Master had finished his term or year serving his Lodge, he rarely came back to Lodge meetings. I would ask them before their last meeting how they were feeling about stepping down. Most did not know what to expect or how they would feel, but I knew because I had been a Past Master twice. The first time I stepped down I felt like I was not important or needed anymore. I did my time and that was that. I admit I did not show up to Lodge as much as I did before. My nephew was the Senior Warden of my Lodge and because of his work schedule he could not fulfill the duties of his office, so I was asked to fill in as Senior Warden when he was not there. He could move up to Worshipful Master and I was asked if I would take the chair again to fill the station. I agreed to do it. I had more fun the second time because I knew what to do and expect as the leader of the Lodge. As I was fulfilling my term, I was appointed the DDGM of the 16th Northeast District and I really received a better look at what Lodges should do and the workings of all the members.
So, what I would say is some of the Past Masters of the Lodges that I had just talked to came back to lodge on occasion, then dropped out feeling they were not needed as before. Have you felt that way? Even as a member, do you feel not needed because you have no job to do or any responsibility?
When I would tell them before they stepped down that their feeling might be that of not being needed and empty, but they should feel just the opposite. They were needed more in their Lodge now than before. They were now in the position to guide, add knowledge, and show the younger Masons coming up in the chairs what to do, (when asked), and mentoring the newer Masons. Now your new job as Past Master or position has become more important than ever. I know many lodges recycle their officers because their membership is not coming to the meetings. So let me share this article I found a few years ago. It applies to all Masons in every Lodge.
The Silent Summons
A member of a certain Lodge, who previously attended meetings regularly, had stopped going. After a few months went by, the Worshipful Master decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening, and the Worshipful Master found his brother at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
Guessing the reason for the Worshipful Master visit, the brother welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The Worshipful Master made himself comfortable but said nothing.
In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After a few minutes, the Worshipful Master took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
His host watched all of this in quiet contemplation. As the one, lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow, and its fire was no more. Soon, it was cold and dead.
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The Worshipful Master glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember, and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately, it began to glow once more, with all the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the Worshipful Master reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for the fiery summons, my brother. I will be back in our Lodge next meeting.”
Your attendance at Lodge meetings, whether you are a Past Master, an Officer working your way up or just a member, is important for every aspect of what a lodge should be and how it should function. Masonry is a Fraternity of men who meet and have fellowship with each other. Fellowship is especially important to our own existence as human beings. We were not meant to be alone. I know when you join a lodge for a while you do not understand what is going on or what to expect, but that is when you must put forth your effort to get involved, not just sit, and wait for what you are told to do. Every one of us has a talent that a Lodge needs and it is up to you to offer your talent to your Lodge. Do not be that single ember fading away.