by Steven Moazami, WM
Brothers, Family and Friends,
We’re approaching Nowruz (the Persian New Year), the Vernal Equinox, and the first day of Spring. These are all a celebration of rebirth, of new beginnings, of the continuation of life. Spring is an ubiquitous symbol of youth, as is the Entered Apprentice degree in Masonry. The salad days as they say.
But it’s not until the Master Mason degree - the degree that symbolizes age -that we’re admonished to “remember now thy creator, in the days of thy youth”. Isn’t that “now” too late by the last third of a man’s life? It has struck me as odd that it is not in the first degree which is symbolic of the actual “days of thy youth”.
The quote is from Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 and is one of the most beautiful parts of Masonic Ritual. A very moving poem by any stretch. In fact all of Ecclesiastes is so beautiful and poignant that it has made a lasting impact in poetry and literature in the Western World.
Poems by the likes of William Shakespeare and Robbie Burns have referenced it. A folk song by Pete Seeger (made famous by The Byrds) is almost entirely from its third chapter (To his credit, Pete did add the “Turn, turn, turn”). Many have been moved by Ecclesiastes.
So its inclusion in Masonic Ritual is no surprise and feels natural, but what do we make of its placement? What was the intention of placing 12:1-7 in the third degree?
Ecclesiastes 1:1 identifies its author: “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” None other than King Solomon, whose temple our lodges symbolize. Jewish tradition holds that Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon in his old age, a recording of his self-reflection. The wise old king, in the twilight of his life, admonishing all of us - not from supposition - but from enlightenment.
I believe that is why it is included in the third degree. Because just as the third degree symbolizes age, so Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 symbolizes that wisdom that comes with it. That wisdom that you appreciate only with perspective, that’s lost on those not ready for it. An acknowledgement that many of the most important lessons are learned too late.
As we welcome Spring and these new beginnings of another year, let’s remember the wisdom of King Solomon, and live the best lives we can, and be the best men we can, starting now, in the days of our youth.
Sincerely And Fraternally,
UPCOMING EVENTS - From our Trestleboard
MAR 1 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
MAR 11 - Past Master Roast and Award Dinner | GET TICKETS NOW!
MAR 15 - Special Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
MAR 22 - Master’s Table Dinner | TBA