It Was All My Wife’s Idea
No, really. I’m sitting on the couch one day after work, blissfully immersed in my Netflix queue, when my wife leans over and says, “Honey, I want to show you something. But don’t laugh, I want you to think about it…” Then she hands me her phone, open to a Facebook post.
“Freemasonry?” I reply, with a hint of incredulity. Images of National Treasure, Dan Brown novels, and the Simpsons flicker through my mind, but I know my wife well enough to know that she’s probably been thinking about this privately for days, carefully considering it before bringing it up, so I check my initial reaction.
“Yeah. I think it might be good for you, and I think it might be what you’ve been looking for.” I hadn’t realized I’d been looking for anything, but as usual, her insight would prove to be spot-on.
A friend of hers from grad school had posted a link to the Millersville Open House on Facebook. He was a cool young guy, with some amazing tattoos, and it was clear we had a lot in common from Doctor Who to a passion for learning. She told me how she had a lot of respect for him, and he seemed like a really good man, and that was what masonry seemed to be about: Taking good men and making them better.
Not a Joiner
I’ve always been a bit of an outcast, lone wolf, maverick type of guy. (Read: nerd.) I can be socially awkward, and it can be difficult to maintain a circle of friends, especially since moving away from the few I had left from college. I also prided myself on my individuality, on being “different,” not a “joiner.”
So I had honestly never given Masonry a single moment of thought, any more than I’d considered the Knights of Columbus, the Rotary Club, or any of the other clubs on the “Welcome to Plainfield” sign. The only clubs I ever joined were Latin Club, Ballroom Dance, and of course, my old D&D group. When I heard the term “Fraternity”, I thought of all the alpha males who wanted to shove me in my locker in high school. Not a strong seller.
But right away, I could see masonry was different. First, not everyone could join. These guys had standards. Moral standards. Secondly, while requiring a spiritual foundation, they were open to all different faiths. That caught my attention. As devout Presbyterian, I had no problem with Christian organizations, but that sort of rigid institutionalized tolerance bespoke a different breed of men, with open minds and serious intellect.
As a history nerd who dabbled in Shakespeare, the ritual aspect really caught my eye as well. It was refreshing to think that in our world where information is free and easy and ever at your fingertips, there was knowledge out there that must be earned, wisdom that could only be obtained through hard work. And yes, the secrecy was incredibly captivating.
The more I looked, the more I liked. Masonry seemed like it might fill a hole I had not even realized I had. As a fifth grade teacher, I spend most of my day surrounded by women and children. As a card-carrying nerd with no interest in sports, I frequently feel uncomfortable socializing in large groups of men, and always had better friendships with women. But the idea of this sort of manly comradery really spoke to me on a deeper level, and I hadn’t realized how much I had missed those kind of relationships.
Our first child was only a few months old, and none of my friends had children yet. Having a place where I could be around other men, talk with them, learn from them, receive mentorship and guidance; my wife was right. It was what I’d been looking for.
As a devout reader of www.theartofmanliness.com, I’d become fascinated with the idea of old-fashioned, classic manhood. I’d started shaving with a brush and a double edged razor, and had been reading up on Teddy Roosevelt. It seemed a refreshing change from the extended adolescence and “dude-bro” nature the rest of my generation seemed afflicted with. I was 27, with a wife, a baby, and a promising career; I was sick of guys. I needed to be a man. So, the world’s oldest fraternity, dedicated to true manhood? Alright, sign me up.
Non-masons out there, especially ones of the millennial generation, you might feel like you don’t fit into the mold of the free-wheeling, no-responsibility manchild you see in every Judd Apatow movie and sit-com. You might be ready to take something seriously, to shoulder some responsibility, to work and earn something valuable. You might find yourself looking at past generations, wanting to incorporate the values and resilience of your grandfather’s era, but struggle to combine it with the sensitivity and open-mindedness of the modern age. Like me, you might be wondering how to be a man in the new millennium, but aren’t quite sure what that means, and without role models to show the way, you may feel like you’re stumbling to blaze your own trail. But you don’t have to; masonry is there to light that path.
Masonic brothers, remember the example you provide at all times. My journey through the degrees of masonry began with a man I’ve never even met in person; but there was something different about him that made my wife take notice, something that earned her respect, so much so that I wanted other people to speak about me the way she was describing him. We must bedifferent. We never know where our light might take hold, so we must shine our brightest in all aspects of our lives, to walk uprightly on all our paths, for the benefit of all mankind.