February's Master’s Letter: In All Things Charity

AAF262 assists Walt Wheeler PGM in presenting $36,000 to the Ann Arbor Ronald McDonald House

AAF262 assists Walt Wheeler PGM in presenting $36,000 to the Ann Arbor Ronald McDonald House

Brothers,

On this 31st day of February, I wanted to make sure that my February Masters Letter was sent out before the end of the month. With this in mind, one of the subjects that has been in steady discourse lately is charity.

The phrase, "In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas" is likely familiar to many here, but in case your Latin is a little rusty it roughly translates to In necessary things unity; in uncertainty- liberty, and in all things charity. In many respects this help to define charity within the scope of Freemasonry. That we must hold firm to the landmarks of the craft, we must know what is necessary to continually strength our actions, but we must always remember that we are individuals and have free reign in our lives. However, both within the actions of the lodge and also the actions of our personal lives that we must always live with charity. Within the original Latin, charity was synonymous with both love and benevolence toward others and we should use this as the focal point on our discussion of charity.

This month we had the pleasure of initiating two new brothers, where the charge in the Northeast helped to speak to the importance of charity. That we must regularly practice charity, regulate our actions, and limit our desires. However, it is important to note that as Masons we practice charity not because we are a defined charitable organization, rather it is a natural byproduct of who we are and who we seek to become. The Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of India has written that the "practice of charity when adopted by a Freemason gives immense please to himself and also shapes the future of both, the donor and the recipient, to fulfill the requirement of humane services and that surely completes the sublime equation of survival in the turbulent period which can be face by anyone living on this Earth."

Further, this month we also had a chance to complete this grand equation by providing a donation of $36,000 to the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor in conjunction with the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation (MMCF). We were able to see our charity work in action, and how it would help shape the community around us. We had a chance to tour the facilities and see how this contribution will be able to pay for the cost of one of the rooms for a year and assist hundreds of families and affect thousands of lives.

As a way of supporting the commitment that the MMCF has made to our local charities, I would like to see Ann Arbor Fraternity Lodge #262 make an effort to support the MMCF. The MMCF keeps track of giving by members in Lodges, and last year we decided to give an award at Grand Lodge to the Lodge with the highest percentage of members who make a gift to the MMFC, no matter the $ amount. Right now, #262 is ranking at 96th place among Lodges. It would be wonderful if we were in the running since we are the greatest Lodge (now, then and hereafter), but to do that we'd need around 50 more donors. https://www.michiganmasonsfoundation.org/make-a-gift/

So, please join me and consider making a pledge to the MMCF. Whether it be for any amount as a show of faith and commitment. Remember, it is important to contribute liberally to relief of a poor and distressed friend, but more especially a brother mason if without material injury to yourself.

Lastly, as we are speaking about charity, I want to encourage you to come and help us plan our charity event for the Fall. This event will be larger than just a #262 event, we will be inviting all Masonic lodges and Masonic organizations across Washtenaw County, and veterans groups to help plan for a Veteran's Day Gala this November. We will have our next meeting on March 31st, at the Zal Gaz Grotto from 3-5pm. Remember, as Albert Pike stated, "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for other and the world remains and is immortal.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

David Bunn
Worshipful Master 

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Mar 6 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Mar 12 - Brothers of Literature, Please contact Paul Uslan for location information
Mar 20 - Special Communication [EA]  | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall (Ann Arbor)
Mar 23 - Officer Training/Deacon's Day | Alma, MI, lunch/tour provided REGISTER HERE
Mar 27 - Master's Table Heidelberg Restaurant

January's Master’s Letter: Go For a Walk

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Brothers,

                While many believe that whenever we begin something new, the most important thing is to establish what we are looking to accomplish and what our goals are.  However, it is perhaps just as important that we stop to pause and reflect on ourselves and our surroundings.   As we begin the new year I want the lodge to strengthen the relationships between the brothers of the lodge, deepen the ties with the surrounding lodges and other Masonic bodies, and develop the connections to our overall community.  Now that I have laid out the goals that we are looking to accomplish for the year, I think that now is the appropriate time to talk about reflection.

                Within our Masonic ritual we incorporate walking and circumambulation in order to elicit emphasis, illustrate concepts, and provide a chance for reflection.  Further, walking also had a special place for many of the great philosophers of history. Kant would walk daily to escape the “compulsion of thought,” Nietzsche used the solitude of stride in order to compose The Wanderer and His Shadow as he required the moments of reflection and meditation in order to think out and contemplate who he was and clarify his thoughts.  Walking provides an avenue for you to unclutter your mind and look inwardly. 

                One of my tasks as Worshipful master is to set the craft at work and give them proper instruction.  As a result, I want to give you the edict to go for a walk.  Perhaps take a page out of Thoreau’s book and go for a walk in the woods.  Listen to your surroundings, feel the splendor of nature, and contemplate yourself. I know that for some this will be more difficult, but for others this is a continuation of how you live from day to day. While we will have a fair number of events and opportunities planned for this year (more about that later), I want to make sure that throughout this entire Masonic journey that we will take a few moments for reflection during the process.  Freemasonry, by nature, should be restorative to the soul and even if you are not physically going for a walk, please spend time and take an inward journey and spend time with quiet contemplation.

                On to some events that we have coming up:  We will have our Master Mason degree day on January 19th that will give you an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a Master Mason and to go through a reobligation ceremony.  We will have a Masters Table at Hopcat in Ann Arbor on January 24th, we will have a Robbie Burns celebration at the Grange on January 31st. On February 6th, we will welcome Dirk Hughes from the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library who will present on Freemasonry in Michigan and he will also bring the George Washington apron, President Taft apron, and the President Truman cornerstone. We will have a widows luncheon on February 16th as a way of helping to honor the brothers and the widows.

I look forward to seeing you in lodge and I am looking forward to the walk that you will take with me over the upcoming year.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

David Bunn
Worshipful Master 

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Jan 19 - Master Mason Degree Day | The Detroit Masonic Temple (Detroit)
Jan 23 - Masters Table Dinner | HopCat (Ann Arbor)
Jan 30 - Festive Board - Robert Burns Dinner | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall (Ann Arbor)
Feb 6 - Regular Communication -Masonic Museum Presentation | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall (Ann Arbor)
Feb 20 - Special Communication [EA]  | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall (Ann Arbor)

December's Master’s Letter: Farewell to the East!

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Brethren,

Back in 2009, I was unhappy, sour, quick to anger, and I wasn't doing anything to improve it. In fact I was spiraling in my own dissatisfaction with nothing in particular (or in retrospect: myself). My wife told me I should "get out of the house more." Little did any of us know that that comment would lead us to this email today.

Starting out as a socially awkward, quick-to-put-his-foot-in-his-mouth introvert, it pushed me out of my comfort zone to make an arrangement to meet WB Seymour at the Borders in Arborland. Now both Seymour and Borders are gone, but that meeting left an indelible mark in my life and kicked off a journey of self discovery and improvement that lead me through the east. "What do you think, you sure you want to do this?" Seymour asked me. I wasn't, but again I pushed myself and said "yes" anyway, and he gave me a petition.

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And so began my journey in Freemasonry. What I saw so inspired me, I had to get involved. Getting involved meant I would have to continually push myself to find new ways (and sometimes new recipes) to push through obstacles, both internal and external. First as Steward (I had to roll up my sleeves and help), then as Chaplain (I had to memorize those beautiful prayers), then through the officer line (each chair more difficult than the last). With some tragedies along the way, I had to adapt on the fly. I had to learn and improve skills I had no intention of learning or improving. Skills I was perfectly happy to let atrophy because of their distance from my comfort zone.

The result is what you see before you, a slightly less socially awkward, marginally-less-quick-to-put-his-foot-in-his-mouth mostly-introvert, and about to be your immediate past master. Brothers, I call that a success! I couldn't have done it without all the love and support you've all given me over the years. The officers, the past masters, the brethren, you all helped and encouraged me along the way and that was the catalyst for everything I did.

These years have truly been a journey, and I'm coming out the other side a different, better man. Freemasonry has worked as intended for me, it has helped me move that needle in the positive direction as a man, a father, and a member of society. I'm forever indebted to you and the craft, and will pay it forward as best I can. Thank you all for enabling and encouraging me to make this journey

Now begins the next chapter, the journey of this past master to reflect and continue to push myself for the rest of my days so that, when I meet my maker he'll be sure to remark: "Not bad, Dude. Not bad".

Hope to see you all at my last meeting, our December 5 Regular Communication, where I'm sure to make some outrageous motions that just may pass if you're not there to vote "no".

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Dec 5 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Dec 15 - Installation of Officers for 2019 | South Lyon Masonic Lodge
Jan 2 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Jan 16 - Special Communication [MM]  | Saline Lodge

October Master’s Letter: Charity

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Brethren,

Coming up on November 10th is our charity party at the Zal Gaz Grotto in support of the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor (CSC).

We're taught in the Entered Apprentice degree that all good Masons strive to reach the starry-decked heaven by the aid of the symbolism of the three principal rounds of Jacob's Ladder: Faith, hope, and charity. It is mentioned 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..."

Charity is also mentioned in the three principal tenets of Freemasonry: Brotherly love, relief, and truth. Relief here does not just mean relief from poverty, or financial need. One of the things that CSC provides our community is relief. Relief for cancer patients to have a temporary reprieve from the difficulty of their journey. Relief for family members to find understanding and fellowship among others who know their pain and share their grief.

We'll be gathering as a craft to support this great charity and do what we can to help this organization do the good work that they do for our community and for our brothers. Charity too, does not just mean financial giving, though that's a welcome component too. Volunteering to help, stepping up with some elbow grease and doing what we can helps in every way. Not only do we have an opportunity to help a worthy cause, but to be active and vital in supporting our community, and the visibility doesn't hurt either.

During the EA degree the candidate is given a first-hand feeling of being destitute. Penniless and for all intents and purposes, alone, he's asked to make worthy donation for posterity, to be:

"...laid up among the records in the archives of this Lodge as memento that you were herein made a Mason."

A shot at posterity--dashed. It may be a long time since you felt that feeling, asked to contribute, and subsequently being asked if you are entirely destitute. I encourage you to think about the position you were in, nearly naked, and how far from that state you are now. I often reflect on that moment, as I'm truly blessed in this life and I need to remember to give back.

Let's dig deep into that feeling, to power us to come to the party, ready to contribute! Let's make it another successful fund raising event this November 10th! There will be live music (with cover charge towards charity), food and drink available for purchase from the Zal Gaz Grotto, as well as 50/50 raffle and silent auction. And of course, my favorite, a box to drop checks in. If you aren't able to make it, you can still contribute via gofundme!

Hope to see you there! We can't do this without you!

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Nov 7 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Nov 8 - Discussion Group:Brotherhood of Literature | Bro. Paul’s House
Nov 10 - Charity Fundraiser  | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
Nov 28 - Special Communication [MM]  | Saline Lodge
Dec 5 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Dec 15 - Installation of Officers for 2019 | South Lyon Masonic Lodge

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September Master’s Letter: Right On Schedule!

“Let every man be master of his time.” ~ WS

“Let every man be master of his time.” ~ WS

Brethren,

The weather is cooling, days are getting shorter, leaves are changing, and oh my goodness Autumn crashed into my family like a rhino whose credit card is unexpired. My apologies for this September's Master's letter being so belated as to come to you in October.

Repentant of my tardiness, I've looked at our ritual for what lessons I can learn regarding my lapse in punctuality or the lack of timeliness in delivering this letter to you.

The scythe, the hour glass, time undoing the ringlets in the virgin's hair: Masonic symbolism is rich in references to the fleeting nature of our time on Earth, themes I've touched on before. We're taught to consider the working tool of the 24 inch gauge as way to allocate our time, and we hear a lot of references to Freemasonry as it relates to time immemorial. But I haven't seen anything on the value of being on time. Curious.

My thoughts on why this is falls under two categories: Practical (Operative) and Spiritual (Speculative).

In operative Masonry, as especially from its beginnings in time immemorial, there is no working tool for the measure of time, as seen by the 24 inch gauge being used as an emblem for time. Punctuality and timeliness require a precision in the measurement of time, which didn't exist up until the 17th century, a little before the advent of speculative masonry. Prior there were sun dials which are reasonably accurate but subject to weather and seasonal changes. There were water alarm clocks to wake monks in the middle of the night so they didn't miss their prayers. But until the advent of the pendulum clock it wasn't really possible to accurately (and reliably) measure minutes, and even then it had no practical use for measuring punctuality. It was a great boon to navigators and astronomers to accurately track and chart the stars, but it wasn't until the advent of the railroad and the hairspring that allowed for reasonably accurate pocket watches, that it meant something to be punctual.

So operative Masonry, predating all this, apparently had no need for it. I imagine you showed up to work a certain rough time relative to day break and left a rough amount of time relative to sun set. Strange to the modern sensibilities that you didn't begin work at something o clock sharp. But seems reasonable to think that being "on time" was lumped into "showing up" when time is more relative than we're used to. So it seems to me that while we explore Freemasonry to make ourselves better men, it wasn't until recently that "punctual" was part of being "better".

In discussing this curious lack of symbols with Brother Paul Uslan, our Lodge Education Officer, he pointed out what the absence of a symbol might mean in speculative Masonry. "As time and space cease to exist on the spiritual plane, I doubt there are symbols to explain it on the physical," Paul pointed out. This gave me a lot to ponder. The lessons of the hour glass and the scythe certainly tell us that life is fleeting and we should make the use of every moment we have, but time stretching forth before and after your time on Earth is so vast, what is a minute relative to eternity? Is the spiritual lesson on timeliness actually a lesson on timelessness? Not to sweat the little stuff in the big picture? Or is the spiritual lesson that it's not the time or the space that matters, but being at the time and space that you'd said you'd be? Being true to yourself and your word? Brothers it feels like the spiritual lesson is both.

So maybe I shouldn't sweat the fact that it took me so long to find the time to write to you, but maybe I should sweat the fact that I didn't properly execute one of my duties as master of this lodge. I'll endeavor to do better for October! The clock's ticking!

What do you think brothers? Have I missed some symbols or lessons Freemasonry might offer on punctuality and timeliness?

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Oct 17 - Special Communication [MM]  | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Oct 24 - Dinner&Movie/Master’s Table | Zal Gaz Grotto Club, RSVP NOW
Nov 7 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Nov 8 - Discussion Group:Brotherhood of Literature | Bro. Paul’s House
Nov 10 Charity Fundraiser  | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
Nov 28 - Special Communication [MM]  | Saline Lodge

Three is the magic number!

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Brothers,

It's June, the last month before we go dark for two months. So maybe I should write three months worth of letter. Better yet: one letter about the number three.

Three is the magic number and comes up quite a bit in ritual. In the Fellowcraft degree alone there are many sightings of three. The three steps allude to the three degrees in Freemasonry and the three principal officers. Three are the original Greek columns: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Three are the most revered of the five senses: hearing, seeing, and feeling. A solid is a figure of three dimensions, namely: length, breadth, and thickness. There are the three wages of the Fellowcraft: the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment, and the oil of joy--which denote plenty, happiness, and peace.

But the three most meaningful to me are the jewels of a Fellowcraft:

"...which are an attentive ear, an instructive tongue and a faithful breast, because the attentive ear receives the sound from the instructive tongue and the mysteries of Masonry are safely lodged in the repository of faithful breasts."

The attentive ear is important because there is so much to learn. You may have heard me say I'll be tired of living when I'm tired of learning. Though my ADD can make the attentive part difficult ... I lost my train of thought. Listening is a valuable skill that doesn't always come easily. Wisdom can be in knowing when to listen and to whom you listen. It's something I'm constantly working on, suppressing that urge to interject half cocked into any conversation.

Listening isn't the only way to learn though. Some even say to master something you have to teach it.  Every Regular Communication we try to have an education coordinated by our excellent LEO Paul Uslan (that's Lodge Education Officer, not his zodiac symbol). That's an example of the instructive tongue expanding your horizons. We all accumulate knowledge along our journeys, Masonic or not, and that knowledge is valuable and should be shared. Passing on our knowledge can help us solidify our own understanding, and in explaining we can find new insight. I highly encourage you to reach out to Brother Paul and sign up to do a Lodge Education on any subject you find interesting.

Lastly the faithful breast, where we symbolically lodge and literally hold dear the mysteries of Masonry. Determining what knowledge is worth keeping, sharing, or even disregarding is another example of wisdom. Being faithful to the truth is one of the highest ideals of civilization and as Freemasons we are taught to cherish this as much as our secrets and obligations.

INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE: Don't forget, this Wednesday at 9:00am we're meeting by State Street just south of Williams to march in the Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade! Stay tuned for exact details, all Masons from all over are welcome to march with us!

Have a great summer! We'll see you at the July 15 picnic and then in the fall, and don't forget to grow your chili peppers all summer for the great chili cook off 3rd Wednesday of September!

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
July 4 - Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade | On State, just south of William 9:00am
July 5 -  Brotherhood of Literature | WB Pal Bunten's house
July 15 -  Masonic Family Picnic | Gallup Park
July 25 -  Master's Table Dinner | Smokehouse 52 BBQ,  Saline
Aug 2  -  Brotherhood of Literature  | TBA
Aug 22 -  Grotto Master Mason Night and Master's Table Dinner | Zal Gaz Grotto

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We are the Craft!

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Brethren, 

I would like to register a complaint. In my March Master's letter we established that March was in like a lion but out like a lamb. However March came out swinging and didn't let up well into April. Finally Spring was sprung but much too late for my preference. Really just went right from Winter into Summer. Whichever Mason was in charge of the weather machine last month really let us down. Contact your BGP and let us file charges. 

Speaking of charges, let's talk about the EA one. (Dad-joke segue!)

We have all been charged in the EA degree when we were new Masons, but I'd like to review them through the lens of us as old, crusty Masons. There are 6 paragraphs for us to examine. I won't include the text here so you'll have to follow along with your book at home. Better yet, come to the EA degree this month and think about the charge as it's delivered, not just to the EA, but to yourself as well.

First things first, the charge congratulates us on being accepted into such an ancient and honorable institution. No doubt this was intended to reassure any newly initiated brothers who may be shaken or nervous that what they just experienced was indeed a worthwhile thing. For us as established Masons it's a great reminder of all the fraternity offers below the surface and of the parade of better-men-than-we who proceeded us in Freemasonry. 

Second we are reminded of the 3 great duties: to God, your neighbor, and yourself. I believe this is to instruct the newly made brother that Freemasonry is not to be placed ahead of our normal responsibilities, a call back to the assurance made prior to the obligation. As a Master Mason this reminds me why I strive to be better than I am. 

Third we are admonished to be good and peaceful citizens. Similar to the 3 great duties, the newly made brother is being told not to place Freemasonry above the state, to be cheerful in our conformity and not countenance disloyalty or rebellion. I was curious if this was added in response to the events below the Mason-Dixon Line, but it seems it very much predates it. In fact James Anderson's "Charges of a Free-Mason" from 1723 state:

"So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State he is not to be countenanc’d in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible."

Though it is interesting if your only crime was Rebellion, the Lodge will stand by you, our current charge doesn't mention this. In the early days of speculative Freemasonry, as local politicians and noblemen began to join, I can see this charge helping to assuage fears of secret societies overthrowing the governing bodies of the day. As a Master Mason I take this paragraph of the charge to mean not just the face value of prohibiting rebellion, but that we should strive to make positive change from within. (Here is a link to his Constitutions of the Free-Masons if you're interested)

Fourth we are reminded that we represent the craft. I think this is critical for Master Masons not to forget, especially in this day and age of social media. Whenever we engage non Masons in public or online, like it or not the craft will be judged by our words and actions. This is why I don't have the square and compasses on my car. We don't want the general public judging all of Freemasonry based on my ever-so-slightly aggressive driving. It also reminds us to be fair when dealing with our Brothers and the public, to not be biased towards our Brothers at the expense of our and Freemasonry's integrity.

Fifth we are told that masonry shouldn't interfere with our vocation, but are encouraged to study it in our leisure time. As Master Masons this reminds us that we get out of it what we put into it. And we're also warned not to argue with those who seek to ridicule the institution. Again in the age of social media, you are even more likely to run into these sorts of ignorant folk, and getting into the weeds with them on twitters or facebooks doesn't further the cause of Freemasonry.

Lastly, we are reminded that we shouldn't recommend anyone to the craft who couldn't live up to these charges. This is important, even in these days of declining membership, that we have standards that we hold ourselves and our brothers to.

Brothers I hope this reminder encourages you to re-examine the charges through your own lens for your own betterment as a man and a Mason.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
May 16 -  Special Communication [EA] | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
May 19 -  Past Master Brunch - All masons & significant others invited!! | Get Tickets
May 23 -  Master's Table Dinner | Haabs Restaurant, Ypsilanti
May 30 -  Mentor Training - All MMs encouraged to attend! | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
June 6  -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
June 16 -  Special Communication [FC]|  Detroit Masonic Temple
June 23 -  Table Lodge | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
 

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks...

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Brethren,

I'm turning 45 this month. At age 44 I decided I was going to learn to snap with my left hand before I turned 45. Mission accomplished. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Next I decided I was finally going to solve a Rubik's cube. After some 30+ years of not being able to figure it out on my own, I cheated and learned some algorithms from YouTube. Same place where I learned to tie a bow tie, same place I learned to stabilize the temperature of my Kamado grill. I so enjoy learning new things that I believe I'll know when I'm done living when I'm done learning things.

In the Fellowcraft lecture, no where is Youtube mentioned. But the seven liberal arts and sciences are introduced, and in the charge we are admonished that:

"The study of the liberal arts, that valuable branch of education which tends so effectually to polish and adorn the mind, is earnestly recommended to your consideration"

The liberal arts are the disciplines essential for a free (liberalis) person to master, as deemed by those old dudes of classic antiquity. To be an effective and productive citizen you had to have to had a solid grasp of the Trivium: grammar, logic, rhetoric; and the Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.

It really bums me out that I don't know more of each art. I've always admired the "Renaissance Men" -- the Leonardo Da Vincis and the Isaac Newtons.

In classical antiquity though, there was only so much discovered, so much depth of knowledge. There was room to push understanding in every direction. Even later on during the Renaissance when the idea of the 7 liberal arts were adopted from the old dudes of antiquity, one could learn a solid understanding and expertise in multiple disciplines and be a true Renaissance Man. And from there they naturally found their way into our Fellowcraft Lecture.

Can we still learn them all?

Nowadays math is full of Fermat's Last Theorems, astronomy is full of quantum tunnelings, geometry is full of pseudoholomorphic curves, and philosophy is rife with abstract thought that makes my head spin (Existential phenomenology anyone?). A single person mastering so much knowledge is impractical.

This surprisingly, is liberating to me (pun intended). There is so much to learn that you just have to take your time and pace yourself because you're never going to know everything. But you can have a lot of fun learning as much as you can along the way. There are many opportunities to learn, to breach the barriers of your personal unknowns and learn from the experts who stand on the shoulders of all those who came before them, who can trace their knowledge back to antiquity.

So while snapping and solving Rubik's cubes are trivial skills not at all essential in modern life, they're things I never thought I'd learn and I did. Little victories in the little time we have in our busy lives. They're symbolic of my own personal forward motion in learning. Now to find time to get through the stack of books in my back log.

I hope you make it to lodge soon, every business meeting we have an education, another great opportunity for learning.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details
Apr 4  -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Apr 18 -  Special Communication [EA]| Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Apr 25 -  Happy Hour - Significant others invited!! | Null Taphouse, Dexter

"In Like a Lion", and on to a Safe Harbor

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Brethren,

In like a Lion, as they say, March is upon us. Smashing snow and viruses into our lives like a lion smashing into its prey.

The lateness of getting this letter to you is a byproduct of how hard this month has hit my family. How to weather this storm--in fact weathering storms is a recurring challenge in my life.

How can Freemasonry help me weather the storm?

On the subject of storms there is this very brief mention in the Master Mason lecture:

"THE ANCHOR AND ARK are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well spent life. They are emblematic of that Divine ark which safely bears us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary shall find rest."

The juxtaposition of a "well-grounded hope" with the nautical "Anchor and Ark" is funny to me because the best way to avoid a storm at sea, of course, is to stay aground to begin with. We know though life is more complicated than that and you'll not get anywhere in life if you never set to sea, metaphorically. So we shall find ourselves on a "tempestuous sea of troubles" erelong.

"A well spent life" sounds to me like a totality, through that lens the "sea of troubles" is life and the "peaceful harbor" is death. The wording "sea of troubles" no doubt alludes to Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy: 

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles"

Another reference to this same speech is in the Fellowcraft lecture. As Hamlet hesitates over avenging his father (spoiler alert) he eloquently ponders the meaning of life and death. It's small wonder that little echos of his profound words have found their way into our lectures. This connection to Hamlet's thoughts on life and death further reinforces my feeling that the lecture's reference to the Anchor and Ark is about the total of one's life journey through this tempestuous existence we call life.

And what is "that Divine ark"? The only divine sea-faring ark that I'm aware of is that of Noah. And that only made one trip, over one storm, again, seeming to allude to the duration of one's life. Unless "that Divine ark" refers to the Ark of the Covenant, which would be quite the mixed metaphor, and of little practical use to bear one over even a calm sea.

So then, if this part of the lecture is referring to a (or the) storm of a lifetime, how then do we weather the little storms between the little calms in our lives?

There must be harbors of momentary peace where we can find momentary rest, before reaching that final harbor. We must have a well-grounded hope that we'll find many harbors of peace along a well-spent life.

I'm sure most of these will be personal ones along our journeys, as each man's voyage differs and we travel through our own tempests. We just need to hold out that hope that we'll spot that calm refuge when we most need it. But I think we can agree that among Masons, the Lodge is one such harbor we share. Our Lodge is a place where we weary brothers may come together and rest and recharge, to take refuge from the tempests and troubles of life, to take up our working tools and work upon ourselves in the sanctuary of our brotherhood.

So my brothers, I shall weather the storms in my life by remembering the lessons of the Anchor and the Ark, looking out for safe harbors, and possibly re-reading Hamlet.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

UPCOMING EVENTS - See  our Calendar for details

Mar 21 - Special Communication [EA]| Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Mar 28 - Master's Table Dinner | Location Metzger's German Restaurant
Apr 4  -  Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Apr 18 -  Special Communication [EA]| Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
Apr 25 -  Happy Hour - Significant others invited!! | Null Taphouse, Dexter

WINNER: Thomas Hathaway Takes the Gold at Regional Ritual Contest!

 Jackson Lodge #17 hosted the Region 6 Ritual Competition this last Saturday, Febuary 17.

Our Brother Thomas Hathaway won the MM competition and WB Eugene Chapel (Parma #183) won the PM competition!  We wish them both good luck when they move on to the State competition to be held in April!

Pictured, from left: RWGL Thomas Braun of Cedar Lodge #60, Sam Mogg of East Lansing #480,  Thomas Hathaway of Ann Arbor #262 , Russell Chapel standing in for brother Eugene Chapel, both of Parma #183, Mike Bohnet of Cement City #435, Jim Rutherford of Howell #38, Frank Peters, Region 6 RGL of Webberville #485.

Pictured, from left: RWGL Thomas Braun of Cedar Lodge #60, Sam Mogg of East Lansing #480, Thomas Hathaway of Ann Arbor #262, Russell Chapel standing in for brother Eugene Chapel, both of Parma #183, Mike Bohnet of Cement City #435, Jim Rutherford of Howell #38, Frank Peters, Region 6 RGL of Webberville #485.