The Long and the Short of it.

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Brothers,

Last Master's letter I wrote about the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Now I'd like to talk about February, the longest month in the year.
"Wait," you might say, "February is the shortest month of the year." Well brother, measured by days, agreed. But after all the fun and excitement of the holidays and the New Year, and before all the glimpses and anticipation for Spring provided by March, sandwiched in the middle is February. I can see why Valentine's Day was put smack in the middle of February's 28 days, but its just not enough to make the month move.
So for me, these are the longest 28 days of the year when cabin fever sets in. Is there a Masonic symbol for cabin fever? Is that the hidden meaning of the dot within the circle?
Symbol or no, the thing February teaches me is patience, and to keep the eye on the long game. So to help me make it through this February, let's consider the 4 Cardinal Virtues.
TEMPERANCE is that due restraint upon our affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice."
Temperance (possibly aided by a wee nip of whisky) will help me keep my mind sharp and clear to focus on keeping life going and on track.
FORTITUDE is that noble and steady purpose of mind, whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril, or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient."
Fortitude (possibly aided by old fashioned vitamin D) will help me keep my body going through the cold and dark, moving past life's obstacles with resolve.
PRUDENCE teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictate of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudentially determine, on all things relative to our present, as well as our future happiness."
Prudence (definitely aided by my wife) will help me navigate the winter with wisdom, knowing to pick my battles and keep my sights on the light of Spring.
JUSTICE is that standard, or boundary of right, which enables us to render to every man his just due, without distinction."
And finally Justice (aided by some self-reflection) reminds me that just as we all suffer through this winter, so too do I carry my share. I accept my just due, and suffer not alone.
Brothers, It's a long short month and we have quite a bit of work to do. So please join me in brotherhood and Freemasonry and let's barrel through the rest of winter

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Feb 7 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Feb 21 - Special Communication [MM]| Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Feb 28 - Master's Table Dinner | Location TBA
Mar 3  - Past Master Roast and Award Dinner
Mar 7 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall

New Year, New Light...

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Well Brothers,

A new year is upon us. The bad news is, you're a year older. The good news is, you've made it halfway through my master's letters, you're over the hump!

I've always thought it's weird that the New Year begins in January, in the midwinter. To me Spring, symbolic of rebirth, is far more suited. Though I may be biased as the first day of Spring is the New Year in the land of my birth.

Lately though I've been thinking about the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year, when Fairbanks in Alaska gets less than 4 hours of daylight. Every day after the solstice is longer. And up until the Summer Solstice, every day is a little longer than the day that preceded.

So while Winter itself symbolizes the waning years of life, the Winter Solstice is in effect a renewal of life and hope, as each day brings more and more light.

Likewise while Summer symbolizes the prime of life, beginning on the longest day of the year, so too is it the beginning of the decline, each day being shorter than the last.

I find these juxtapositions fascinating. At the very start of Winter, there is hope in every day's new light. At the very start of Summer, there is an urgency to take advantage of as much light as you can, as it is fleeting.

When I think in this way, starting the year in Winter does make sense. Start from the darkest point and move towards the light. Let's get a fresh start together and with light added to the coming light, continue our work towards illuminating our lives as men and Masons.

We had a very eventful 2017, here's to your 2018 being as healthy and prosperous as possible!

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Jan 11 -  MM Degree Rehearsal | Saline Masonic Temple
Jan 17 - Special Communication [MM]| Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Jan 24 - Festive Board: Burns Dinner | Zal Gaz Grotto Club RSVP NOW!
Jan 31 -  Ritual Club [EA] | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Feb 7 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall

Building on a Firm Foundation

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Brethren,

So it has come to this. The last Master's letter and last Regular Communication of 2017. Where has the year gone? Bittersweet that it comes to an end. We've had fun, we've done some good work, and something more important.
This past weekend WB Art, Steward Eric Bettner and I were consolidating the 159 and 262 storage lockers. As we moved boxes and pictures we made rediscovery after rediscovery. Found member records from 1923, which recorded the $20 per degree they paid as they joined. ($285 dollars per degree in today's money). Found picture after picture of newly installed officer lines. Found newsletters of their exploits. So much history and we barely scratched the surface, as we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were there to move history, not learn it.
2017 is about to join those many many years in the books. Everything we do extends what they have done. We are the continuance of what they started. I hope that we've done them proud.
According to the EA Lecture:

"Prudence teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge and prudentially determine all things relative to our present and future happiness."

It talks about our future happiness, our own personal happiness, that we can influence with prudence.
But this makes me wonder if all these Masons of yesteryear, how much thought did they give to the future happiness that Art, Eric, and I experienced rediscovering their stories?
Which leads to the "something important" I alluded to in the beginning. We're adding to the foundation of Ann Arbor Freemasonry for all the years to come.
In 2017 we've accomplished much. Some historic - like the merging of 159 and 262, some not as historic - such as surviving the hottest Tigers game I've ever experienced, but all of it amazing and filled with brotherhood. What we do in 2018 will build off of what we have done this year. And I hope we continue to build something wonderful that will bring future happiness to unknown brothers to come.
I want to once again thank everyone for all their hard work and support in making 2017 what it was, and I look forward to working with you all to make 2018 even better. 

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Dec 6 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Dec 16 - Installation of Officers for 2018 | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
Jan 3 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
 

Thanksgiving - Thankful for SafeHouse Center!

Pictured are Bob Hospadaruk PM, Garry Lewis, Deb Kern - Giving & Events Manager at SafeHouse, Steve Moazami WM, and Art Davidge PM

Pictured are Bob Hospadaruk PM, Garry Lewis, Deb Kern - Giving & Events Manager at SafeHouse, Steve Moazami WM, and Art Davidge PM

Friends and Brothers, we are overjoyed to be able to support the work of SafeHouse Center this year.  Ann Arbor-Fraternity Lodge #262, with the help of the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation and most importantly our community friends and business partners raised $5500.00 during our "Freemasons for SafeHouse" event last November 11.  

We are so thankful for SafeHouse Center being here in our town – providing support for those impacted by domestic violence or sexual assault.  They provide free and confidential services for any person victimized that lives or works in Washtenaw County.  SafeHouse services include emergency shelter for those in danger of being hurt or killed, counseling, legal advocacy, support groups, and especially, HOPE.

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How We Use Our Time

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Brethren,

At the November Regular communication our Education Officer Paul Uslan presented an amazing paper he wrote on Freemasonry and how we can make it more valuable for new members and more attractive to potential new members. One thing he reminded us is that learning the applications of ritual through mindful exploration of the craft isn't easy or automatic, and we need to make the time do it.

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...which we are taught to divide into three equal parts...

Our Entered Apprentice ritual has a lessons on the subject of time, the first that comes to mind is one of the working tools of an Entered Apprentice--the 24 inch gauge:

"It being divided into twenty-four equal parts is emblematic of the twenty-four hours of the day which we are taught to divide into three equal parts, whereby we find a portion for the service of God and a distressed Worthy Brother, a portion for our usual vocations and a portion for refreshment and sleep."

The third portion is the critical time when we recharge our batteries, without proper rest and energy we can hardly do a good job with the other two portions.

The second portion is the critical time when through our labors we produce the resources necessary to sustain ourselves and families, and frees us to engage in the first portion.

The first portion, for the service of God and a distressed Worthy Brother, is also critical for many reasons. Foremost in my mind is that it would encompass that Masonic ideal that I have wrote about before: Charity. It reminds us that Charity isn't something you do once in a big bang at the end of the year, it's something we should be thinking about and working on every day. As men and Masons we should be living each day with Charity in our hearts, being ready to give as our cable tow allows.

That said, come give to charity in one big bang at our year-end charity event  this Saturday November 11! It's for a great cause and will help make a difference in our community. As WB Secretary says, invite your rich friends and let’s party for SafeHouse Center.

I never addressed which portion is the time we work on ourselves, growing our understanding of ritual and expanding our minds as Masons. Is it as part of our refreshment? Does it count as part of our usual vocation? Could we ourselves be a distressed worthy brother in the context of needing to expand our knowledge and understanding of ritual? I leave that to you my brother.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Nov 11 -  Memorial Service for WB Bob Murphy | 11:00am Details Here
Nov 11-  Free Mason Party for SafeHouse | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
Nov 15 - Special Meeting | Purpose and Place TBA
Nov 29 - Lodge of Sorrow Memorial Service | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
Dec 6 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Dec 16 - Installation of Officers for 2018 | Zal Gaz Grotto Club

Freemason Party for SafeHouse | Saturday Nov 11

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A fun-raising party to assist SafeHouse Center to build communities free of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Featuring the band: Cellar Cats ~ Food ~ Silent Auction ~ 50/50 Raffle!
Monetary Donations will be matched by The Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation. Wow!
$5 - Cover
$10 - Cover with Bar Privileges

Share our Facebook Event!    OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - OVER 21 ONLY!

The Extants of the Lodge...

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Brethren,

The dimensions of a Masonic Lodge are explained to us during the Entered Apprentice lecture.

We're taught that "the form and extent of a Lodge is an oblong square, extending from east to west, between north and south" which sounds reasonable enough: a rectangle, wider along the east/west orientation. It then goes on to say that the Lodge extends "from the earth to the heavens and from the surface to the center." Now we find that a Lodge is much, much wider along the up/down orientation than east/west. You're familiar with the 3D shape called a cube; the general rectangle version is called a "right rectangular prism".

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I interpret this to mean the lodge is a right rectangular prism, so much wider (for all intents and purposes infinite) along one dimension, compared to the other two. Practically a line, from the center of the earth, stretching to infinity. What does that symbolize?

The lecture tells us that "It is of such vast dimensions to signify the universality of Masonry and that Masonic charity should be equally extensive."

So I imagine each lodge across the globe, as right rectangular prisms extending out to the heavens, beacons representing Masonry and Masonic charity.

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We're also taught that the three principal rounds of Jacob's Ladder are Faith, Hope, and Charity, and that "The greatest of these is Charity, for Faith may be lost in sight, Hope may end in fruition, but Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity."

So not only does the right rectangular prism of the lodge extend to the heavens to signify the vastness of Masonic Charity, Charity itself extends through boundless realms.

This inspires in me a vision of a blue globe with golden beacons shooting out through space and time, powered by the Charity we accomplish as Masons.

That is a representation of the ideal, but in the real world we have to make this vision a reality, through our efforts. Big efforts and small every day efforts, there are many opportunities in our lives where we can reach out to the less fortunate with aid. How we respond to those opportunities, how we prioritize others over ourselves, and how we plan and execute deliberate acts of Charity, these the ways we power the right rectangular prism with our contributions to Masonic Charity.

With this in mind, I want to congratulate Wes Krumel for the amazing Grotto Charity Car and Jazz event. He put an immense amount of effort into it and it paid off. It was a very successful event and our lodge should be proud of him! Let's be inspired by Wes and the right rectangular prism of our lodge and find ways to accomplish Masonic Charity in our lives.

Come join us in lodge as we plan our next endeavors.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

Oct 4 -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Oct 18 - Special Communication [Rusty Nail-MM], Chili CookOff | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Oct 23 - FC degree | Visitation to Olive Lodge
Oct 25 - Master's Table Dinner | TBA
Nov 11-  Free Mason Party for SafeHouse | Zal Gaz Grotto

 

Pushing Forward...

WM Steve at the Cube - Be Square!

Brethren,

We've had an interesting summer - "Chinese Curse" interesting.
We've lost a number of brothers, and it's being capped off by a world full of hurricanes, literal and symbolic.  It has been enough to remind me that time and tide wait for no man. Time is on my mind.  In the Master Mason Lecture we're taught that a marble monument was erected to Hiram Abiff's memory:

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"...a beautiful Virgin weeping over a broken column, before her was a book open, in her right hand a sprig of acacia, in her left an urn, behind her stands Time unfolding her ringlets and counting her hair."

It is then explained:


"Time unfolding her ringlets and counting her hair denotes that time, patience and perseverance accomplish all things."


But contrast this with the fact that Father Time himself is usually depicted behind her with his scythe, itself a symbol of the finite-ness of man’s time. And so too are the ringlets in her hair finite.  
Another contrast: while the acacia she is holding reminds us of the immortality of the soul, so Time’s scythe reminds us of our own mortality.
Yet another: the book represents Hiram’s many accomplishments, the broken column represents the unfinished temple. 
How do I resolve these juxtaposed symbols against the wisdom of “time, patience and perseverance” accomplishing all things? By remembering that dally and delay are not patience. Thoughtless grinding is not perseverance. And time is not infinite. Man is not a river carving a canyon.
But I do believe if we cherish what time we have with dogged focus and determination, patience and perseverance, we can accomplish all we aspire to--God willing. 
Man is not a river carving a canyon. But rather an artist carving a marble monument—yes with patience and perseverance, but also with intent. Let our legacies stand for themselves with such impact as that of Hiram Abiff’s monument. 
Let's not dally, come join me at our September regular and let’s doggedly push forward with our craft. 

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Aug 31 -    MEMORIAL SERVICE: Bro. Karl Grube | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
Sept 2 -    MEMORIAL SERVICE: Bro. Joel Kimball | Kimball house
Sept 6 -    Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Sept 8 -    MEMORIAL SERVICE: Bro. Eric Feldt | Holly Mi
Sept 20 -  Special Communication [FC] | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Sept 27 -  Master's Table Dinner | TBA
Sept 30 -  Benefit Car Show! | Zal Gaz Grotto Club

How should Masons act?

The Realm of the Fellowcraft!

Brothers,

We now reach the middle of the year, the June regular. let us thus explore the middle years of man, represented by the Fellow Craft Degree.

The chaplain's prayer at the beginning of the degree is Amos chapter 7, verses 7 and 8.

Amos was a prophet who lived in a time when Israel was split. In the north was the Kingdom of Israel, which had grown rich but oppressive to the poor. He was a sheep herder from the southern Kingdom of Judah who was given visions by the Lord regarding the social corruption that had consumed Israel, and was told to go there and preach.  

Chapter 7 starts with the Lord showing a vision of a plague of locusts, Amos pleads, and the Lord relents. Then the Lord shows a vision of a consuming fire, Amos pleads, and again the Lord relents. Now get to the verses 7 and 8:

"Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand.v  And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou?  And I said, A plumb-line. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more."

What is the plumb-line or plumb? We are taught that it is one of the working tools of the Fellow Craft:

"The plumb is an instrument made use of by operative masons to try perpendiculars, ... , but we as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of them for more noble and glorious purposes. The plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and man ..."

Thus verses 7 and 8 are the Lord showing a vision to Amos of a perfectly upright wall, with the tool used to make it such, and saying that he will use this tool to judge his people of Israel, and not give them a pass any longer. He has relented on the locusts and fire, but he will now try their uprightness. The chapter concludes with Amos being ejected from Israel for his message--my Masonic interpretation is it's not always the most popular or expedient to be upright.

It is interesting to note as an aside: Amos's visions start with judgments against neighboring nations, before the visions concerning judgments of the Lord's own people of Israel. This suggests that a central idea of the entire book of Amos is that when it comes to justice and uprightness, the Lord considers all nations on the same level.  I doubt this was lost on the authors of speculative Masonry.

Back to the plumb, recall at the end of the Entered Apprentice degree, the Worshipful Master declares:

"...I am pleased to state that you there stand as a just and upright Mason and I give it you strictly in charge ever to walk and act as such."

So then we begin the Fellow Craft degree where we left off the Entered Apprentice, with Amos's vision reminding us that as Masons, we are endeavor ever to be upright men.

Brethren, please come join me at our regular communication on the 7th, and keep Amos in mind when our Junior Warden answers "How should Masons act?" ... "By the plumb".

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - From our Trestleboard
June 15 -  Book Club: Brothers of Literature | Paul's House
June 17 -  Workshop and Table Lodge | Zal Gaz Grotto Club GET TICKETS NOW!
June 21 -  Special Communication [EA] | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
June 22-  Party with the New York Grotto Folks | Zal Gaz Grotto Club (after dinner)
June 28 -  Master's Table Dinner | Dan's Downtown Tavern, Saline
July 23 -  All Masons and Friends Picnic | Olson Park, 12-4

Merger Celebration Dinner
and Ann Arbor Masonic History Talk!

CLICK HERE to get your FREE tickets

It's a "two-fer" dinner-celebration! Wednesday May 24, 6:00pm

First, dine with us to commemorate the merger of Golden Rule Lodge #159 and Ann Arbor-Fraternity Lodge #262.

Second, learn about Ann Arbor Masonic History from some brothers who have lived it! We'll have a night of fellowship and conversation with four brothers who each have 50 years of Freemasonry under their belt: Brothers Art Davidge PM, Pat Tessmer, Dick Sands MWPGM and Nick Stamos. And a note, Brother Sands brings a unique perspective as a Most Worshipful Past Grand Master!

Significant others are welcome. The catered dinner is complimentary! Dinner starts at 6:00pm; History discussion starts at 7:00pm

CLICK HERE to get your FREE tickets, this RSVP helps us get a head count for the caterer.
Thanks to Brother Andy Hoffman and the other organizing officers!

Also, don't forget our Special EA Degree meeting NEXT WEEK, Wed May 17.  See the CALENDAR for details!