Dear Brothers and Friends,
In the Entered Apprentice degree we’re taught that all lodges have six jewels, half movable. Two of those three movable jewels are the rough ashlar and the perfect ashlar.
In operative Masonry the rough ashlar is a stone fresh from the quarry. In speculative it represents our rough and imperfect beginnings. That is contrasted with the perfect ashlar. The stone made ready for use by skilled hands, in operative masonry. In speculative Masonry we’re taught that the perfect ashlar represents the state we as Masons hope to achieve through our Masonic education, works, and the blessings of deity.
What does it mean though, to be perfect? How can one achieve perfection in this human existence? As a Persian, this has troubled me, the idea of a perfect ashlar. Let me explain.
Persian carpets are beautiful hand-woven rugs of exceptional quality and design, the product of an ancient art and an essential tradition of Iran. Their repeating patterns are delicate and intricate, and have an amazing variety of designs. Yet even the most detailed and skillful designs always contain a flaw. It is there as a reminder that perfection is the domain only of the divine, something man shouldn’t have the hubris to approach.
How to reconcile the idea of a perfect ashlar with my Persian sensibilities regarding imperfect man? It turns out there’s nothing to reconcile but my own understanding of the language.
The word perfect here is used in the older sense of “complete” or “finished”. It doesn’t mean an ashlar devoid of all imperfection, it means an ashlar that is ready to be fitted into its use. Operatively: ready to be fitted into the building. Speculatively: ready to be fitted in that house not made of hands, eternal in the heavens.
When will we be perfect ashlars? Will we be finished before we’re through? We won’t know, but as Masons we strive to be as ready and complete as we can be, as men, before the Grand Architect.
So relax, don’t strive for unattainable perfection. Introduce a subtle flaw into your work to remind yourself that as awesome as you are, there is always room to improve.
Above all, continue with the process of completing yourself as a man, and your understanding of Masonry. Part of that process for me, will be ever chipping away at the language and symbology of Masonry, to find these resonating truths.
I hope that you will join me in continuing your journey to completeness this Wednesday at our Regular communication.
Sincerely And Fraternally,
UPCOMING EVENTS - From our Trestleboard
APR 5 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
APR 15 - Child ID Event | Washtenaw County Fairgrounds, SIGN UP
APR 19 - Special Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
APR 26 - Master’s Table Dinner | TBA