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,
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