The Masonic Trowel

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random gleanings

by R.W.Bro. Geo. S. Cowie,
Red Deer Lodge No. 12;
May, 1969

About the middle of the last century, in the rural areas of England, it was the custom of the farmers to allow the poor people to go out into the stubble fields and gather the stalks and heads of grain that had been left there after the grain had been cut and stacked. The people thus employed were called Gleaners and the grain which they gathered was called Gleanings. As the material for this paper has been gathered from various sources, such as our old Ritual, from talks by eminent Masonic personalities, from our Bulletins and other publications and a few random thoughts of my own, I have called it Random Gleanings.

In our old Ritual, the following passage occurs in the F.C. Degree: - "Ages ago, upon the Eastern Plains, our Order was first instituted, founded upon principles more durable than the metal wrought into the statues of ancient Kings. Age after age rolled by, wave after wave of bright insidious sand curled about its feet and heaped their sliding grains against its sides, storm and tempest hurled their thunders at its head, men came and went in fleeting generations; seasons fled like hours through he whirling wheel of time; but through the tempest and the storm, through the attrition of the waves and sands of Life, through evil report as well as good, Masonry has maintained its beneficent influence, spreading wider and wider over the world." Brethren, this is our Heritage. What are we doing to preserve it today?

The Brother, who unfortunately, thinks that the only requisite of a good Mason consists in repeating, with some fluency, portions of the Ritual, or in correctly opening and closing the Lodge, or in giving, with sufficient accuracy, the modes of recognition, will hardly credit the statement that he whose knowledge extends no further than these preliminaries, has scarcely advanced beyond the rudiments of the Science. It is our duty as members of this ancient and honorable institution, to exert ourselves to our utmost, every one of us, from the Grand Master to the latest member raised to the Sublime degree, to project a better image of ourselves, with our honest endeavors to make this old world a better place to live in.

How can this be done? In the closing charge form the W.M. in the York work, we are admonished to "practice out of the Lodge, those great moral duties that are inculcated in it to do good unto all men, especially those of the household of the faithful, by liberal and diffusive charity, discover the happy and beneficial effects of this ancient and honorable institution" How many of us give this a second thought in the rat race of today? When we remove our aprons, after the Lodge is untyled, we are prone to leave our Masonry right there. How many times during the day, in the stress of our modern life, do we remember the beautiful lessons we have been taught within the tyled walls of our Lodge rooms? Brethren, this attitude is a form of Hypocrisy, that is putting it bluntly, but never the less it is true, we preach brotherly love, relief and truth in our Lodges, and proceed the next day to gouge and scratch and destroy our fellowmen for our own selfish achievements. If this statement causes one of my listeners to look inwardly at his Masonic life, or has jarred one of you off of your complacent seat, then the object of this paper has been achieved.

Masonic Education must be given its proper place. However, the purpose of Masonry is not primarily the dissemination of knowledge, rather it is the creation of a certain spirit, indefinable, and which has its source, not just in historical facts and impressive ceremonies, but in the application of that knowledge, by the individual to his daily life. Freemasonry's task is to develop a way of thinking and acting which reinforces the basic qualities of a good man, and gives these qualities a new application. Freemasonry must help him realize that in his relationship with his fellowman, he will be more than merely correct; that his actions will be guided, not by some rules which have been taught him but by an inner compulsion to reach out, with understanding and helpfulness, to all whom his own life touches. Imagine the impact that Freemasonry would exert on world affairs today. IF, and I capitalize the IF, each one of us would make an honest endeavor to practice our Masonic teachings in our daily lives. Granted, Masonry is exerting an influence in some areas as an organization, but the individual Mason is making a very meager contribution, despite the fact that the opportunities are unlimited and the rewards are most gratifying, not rewards with a price tag attached, but by an inner feeling of satisfaction from having achieved something worthwhile. Today we are more concerned with self aggrandizement and the selfish attainment of material wealth than we are with the welfare of our less fortunate fellowmen. There are a great many ways in which we can assist, and they are not always financial, a kindly visit to a sick friend, a friendly smile and a handshake when we meet, a little courtesy in our habits during our peregrinations and above all honest dealings with each other. You may say these are small, infinitesimal things, but Brethren, the little things of Life are far more valuable than much fine gold.

In the charge in the F.C. degree, we are cautioned never to speak ill of anyone, unless we are sure that what we say is true, to avoid suspicion, for like the fabled Upas tree, it blights all healthy life and makes a desert around it. This, I consider, is one of the blights of our society today, and has always been for that matter. I mean IDLE GOSSIP. How often are we approached by some individual who starts a conversation with these words: - "Have you heard about so and so" and proceeds to enlighten us with the latest morsel of scandal. Brethren, this is the first ingredient of a bomb that may destroy the character and integrity of a fellowman, for by repeating this gossip we are starting a chain reaction that we cannot control, because after many repetitions the original story is unrecognizable, but still keeps reaching out to create more and more suspicion and to destroy in a most insidious manner. We as Masons, have no time nor place for this cancer of society in our lives.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014