The following was presented on November 7, 2023, by Education Officer Joe West.
— Sovereign Grand Command James D. Cole 33o
Scottish Rite Journal of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, July/August 2023, p. 2
On a day off, I often sit outside as I drink my morning coffee. Last week, as I lifted the cup, I suddenly recalled my very first job: restaurant dishwasher. I left that after-school job after a few months to pursue a big raise of a dime an hour, at the local nursing home, where I washed dishes with a machine instead of a series of three sinks. Among the many lessons I learned in the dishwashing jobs was a very simple one that, to me, applies to our journey throughout our Masonic family’s many branches.
I learned the value of avoiding the placement of similar utensils, like spoons, forks, and knives, with one another. You see, if you put all the spoons together in the dishwashing machine, you run the risk that residue on each spoon will cause the spoons to stick together, meaning they will not receive the full effect of the wash, leaving them “dirt.” I learned this the hard way when Mrs. Armstrong, my supervisor at the nursing home, brought the dirty spoons to me and told me to run the entire load again. Since no one could clock out of their shift and go home until all the dishes were washed and put away, my colleagues were not happy with me. This was a valuable lesson learned!
Those spoons remind me of my Masonic journey. One of the strengths of the Masonic experience is our opportunity to enjoy and build on the differences we experience in our interactions with one another.
Just as the cleaning effect of the dishwasher is enhanced when the detergent and the water are able to work down and around the various utensils, the cement of brotherly love and affection found in Freemasonry is more effective when it can be spread completely in and round each of the unique individuals who enters the doors of a Lodge.
We often see, as in many gatherings of humans, small cliques or groups develop in our fraternal congregations. Sometimes these Brethren stick together and, perhaps unintentionally, keep others at a distance. Degree teams, kitchen crews, other specialty teams who for years “don’t need” new members, the long progressive lines of Valley officers, groups of Past Masters...these groups, through well-intended, must ensure that they are more inclusive than exclusive towards other Brethren.
The more we stick together with some, to the detriment of allowing others to “come between us,” we perhaps risk losing great opportunities to learn, to change, and to improve ourselves. As Freemasons, we have common goals, and we share some common beliefs, but one of our greatest strengths is that we can learn from one another. Our differences can become our strengths, very much like the American experience. We can enlighten one another by sharing our views and our perspectives on specific topics. We can, by working together, rid ourselves of the debris and the distractions of life that may cling to us, so that each of us can become a better utensil, or shining tool, of the Supreme Architect.