master's letter

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

Your Ashlar, Rough and Perfect

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, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

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

In the Days of our Youth...

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.

A reminder: our dual-lodge Past Master’s Roast and Awards Dinner is fast approaching (March 11).  Get a ticket HERE for yourself and your significant other, I’ll see you there!

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

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

Friendship, Morality, Love

by Steven Moazami, WM

Brothers, Family and Friends,

As Master Masons we were taught to never lose site of the moral applications of a particular useful and valuable instrument. The same instrument on whose points you were received, which revealed these moral applications are contained within your breast.

Friendship, morality, and brotherly love - the most excellent tenets of our institution - set us apart from other organizations, from other cross-sections of humanity, and from other men.

It is critically important now, as we transition in a heavily polarized country. The half of us that were in power exchange places with the half of us that were not, and America has to bridge the divide as there is so much to do.

We must remember that we’re all the same brothers as we were last month. The same brothers we broke bread with, the same brothers we sat in lodge with, none of us changed our character on January 20th.

One of the unique benefits that Masonry contributes to society is fueled by those most excellent tenets: we humanize our political opposition. Too much of America’s political discourse is spent demonizing the other side, even “liberal” and “conservative” come off our tongues with venom. But we sit in a lodge whose population mirrors that same political divide, and we do so with friendship, morality, and brotherly love. We recognize that we’re all brothers hoping to make the world a better place.

Our nation can’t move forward without healing the divide, and Masonry is part of the solution. If we can get along, break bread and sit in lodge together, then maybe we’ll spread understanding and perspective. Then maybe our national discourse can get beyond the divides and find common ground.

So let’s never lose site of the compasses and their moral application and do our part to come together as a nation. Let them keep us in due bounds with all mankind…

… But especially with a brother Mason. At this month’s Regular Communication there is a different opportunity to bring brothers together. We will be voting on a historic motion, to consolidate Golden Rule No. 159 into Ann Arbor-Fraternity No. 262. You should have already gotten a snail mail copy of the resolution.

Please send your questions or concerns if you are unable to attend, but please do attend if you can, history may be made.

Sincerely And Fraternally, 

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

FEB   1 -   Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
FEB 15 -   Special Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
FEB 22 -   Master’s Table Dinner | TBA
MAR 11 -  Past Master Roast and Award Dinner | Save the Date!


Love, Relief, Truth

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
— Laozi, Chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching

By Steven Moazami, WM

Brothers, Family and Friends,

It was a brisk evening in late January. Fresh snow laid inches upon the ground, adding a muffled quality to the air.
Four men, divested of their normal apparel, huddled next to the warmth emanating from a heater in a quaint bar from a bygone era, on the second floor of a nondescript building, tucked away in downtown Ann Arbor.
Not sure what they were getting themselves into, they were regaled by tales of true Masonry by a gentleman they just met, who had supervised their preparation to receive their first degree.
As this sage silver-haired gentleman recounted stories of how masonry had touched his life and others, their minds were at ease, they knew they were doing the right thing. One by one, they went downstairs and knocked three times.
Thus began my journey into Masonry. The building was Hathaway’s Hideaway, the gentleman was WB Lowell Easton, and the stories he told exemplified the three principal tenets of Freemasonry–brotherly love, relief, and truth.
Now begins a new year and a new chapter.
In my travels in the East, how will I exemplify the three principal tenets?

Brotherly Love - let’s foster an environment of friendship, mutual respect, with opportunities for fun and fellowship.
Relief - let’s be quick to come to the aid of one and another as our cable tows allow.
Truth - let’s endeavor to be true to ourselves, our principles, and act with honesty and transparency.

Come join me this Wednesday January 4, at the first regular of the year, and let’s take the first step of this new journey together.

Sincerely And Fraternally,

Steven Moazami
Worshipful Master

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

JAN   4 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
JAN 12  - Officer Meeting | TBA
JAN 18 - Special Communication [MM] | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
JAN 25 - Master’s Table Dinner | TBA