Freemasonry: ours to use or lose!
174 lodges remain out of the 318 that have existed in our state.
Another way to look at it is nearly half of the lodges that have existed in Washington state have ceased to exist.
That’s a hard concept to understand for those who run around screaming, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Freemasonry is dying!”. No, no, no. Freemasonry is not dying; Lodges die. Just like fruit falling off of a tree and its OK.
I saw this happening in my Lodge (Verity 59) a few years ago except I realized that there was an opportunity at stake. Another way to look at it is my lodge was in a crisis and “crisis” is a Latinized form of the Greek word “krisis” which meant, the “turning point in a disease”. We were certainly at that turning point: either let the Lodge die or double down on our labor. We chose the latter and its been one of the best things I’ve ever done personally.
There I was with a handful of other brothers grasping onto that fruit as best we could to not let it slip away. Perhaps to add to the analogy above, if a Lodge is the fruit then the branch holding it is its membership. When a branch dries out (loses membership) the fruit withers and falls to the ground. But if you don’t have any nutrients getting to that branch, then it will be growing one sad piece of fruit. The key was not to hold onto the fruit, but to feed it and supply it with what it needed to grow.
As I found during this crisis, there is a lot of work that goes into supplying nutrients to a lodge. Not just the the organization but even the building itself. There is no way one person can effectively and harmoniously do it all. It has to be done as a team, and each person on that team brings his special talents to the Lodge. Those talents can and should become the nutrients which sustain the Lodge. When you bring together a group of brothers in the work its like bees bringing together all the local sources of pollen to make the honey in a hive. A hive working through the efforts of one worker bee cannot be sustained, it takes the collective efforts of the whole hive!
Fortunately before we had this crisis there was this little inspiring book that came out. It was called ‘Observing the craft‘ (2010) and it changed my thinking forever by asking this simple question: “Would George Washington want to sit in my lodge?” It was a wake up call to what we were doing. My answer was a clear and definite NO. It turns out that this “ho hum lodge experience” was common across the nation and since this little book was released, it has lead to the development of a new wave of consciousness in our gentle craft.
We needed to stop thinking that there was something wrong with Freemasonry and instead realized we were just one piece of fruit on the tree and we needed to focus on that one fruit. We needed to work to improve the overall experience within our lodge so that when people were attracted to its fruit, they would find something like nothing else in life.
There is a reason Freemasonry has been around since time immemorial. Freemasonry fosters and promotes the growth of men. We become the fruit of our Lodges and the fraternity overall if we truly practice its teachings.
It’s time that we use our Lodges for what they are meant for: environments where we are inspired to grow! Grow as men and as Lodges. We waste so much time talking about what we should do instead of just doing it.
A lodge doesn’t need 500 members to function. It needs 10. 10 brothers who are willing to put in time and work. With these 10 active members, a Lodge can maintain itself. With 10 members, a Lodge can practice true philosophical and fraternal Freemasonry.
The next time someone starts to talk negatively about the craft in your lodge give him this scenario. If we Washington masons are down to 174 from a total of 318 lodges, we are still more successful than the average profit driven restaurant. Consider how many 1,000s of restaurants have opened and closed in Washington. According to a study by Ohio State University, 60% of restaurants do not make it past their first year, and 80% go under in five years. We Freemasons must be doing something right because we have lodges still active today that have existed prior to Washington the territory let alone a state!! (See Olympia Lodge No. 1 history). Olympia Lodge is not only the oldest Masonic Lodge in the state, it is its oldest organization period. We need to take pride and ownership of these facts. We need to realize it has taken countless brothers years upon years silently laboring in the quarries to put together this beautiful structure we now get to call our own.
Instead of looking at our Fraternity in a pessimistic way, we need to look at the positives. If we want to make it a better, richer experience, we need to look at what we are contributing to our own Lodge. Then when that new candidate comes along and discovers Freemasonry, he will find that its fruit is like nothing else in the world.