For Love - or Money
By Carl Claudy
I'm afraid we are not going to have the pleasure of hearing Professor Filson," said the Yearling Mason to the Old Past Master, sitting beside him in the ante-room.
"That's too bad," was the prompt response. "I don't know him. but I understand he's worth hearing. What's the trouble?"
"Oh, it's money, of course. Filson always gets a hundred dollars a lecture, and the lodge can't afford to pay it. And of course Filson can't afford to lower his price, and there you are."
"Why doesn't Filson give the Lodge the lecture then for nothing?" asked the Old Past Master.
"Why, why should he? That isn't business. The electric light company doesn't give us light, the printer charges us for printed matter, the furniture store charges us for carpets; why should Filson present us with his ware?"
"Seems to me there is a difference," suggested the Old Past Master. "Brother Filson, I suppose, comes to the lodge to spend an evening at times. When he does, he spends as much time here without paying, sitting on the bench, as if he were standing up talking. The electric light company could not give us current without spending money to produce it, the printer must pay his printers, the furniture man must buy his carpet. But Brother Filson would not have to spend any money to give his lecture; all he would have to spend would be a small part of what we have spent on him."
"I don't think I understand that last - what we have spent on him?"
"Thousands of years, millions of thoughts, untold effort, careful planning," was the prompt response.
"Listen, my son," went on the Old Past Master; "have you ever stopped to think just what Masonry is and does? Masonry is the product of the most unselfish thinking, the most whole-hearted and selfless effort, the world has ever known. Through it a universal brotherhood of millions of men has been brought into being, to any one of which you and I and Brother Filson have the right to turn, sure of sympathy, understanding and some help in time of need.
"Through Masonry, a system of philosophy has been evolved, and through its lodges that philosophy is taught to all brethren of the third degree, without money and without price. Through it we learn charity, toleration, courage, fortitude, justice, truth, brother love, relief. Through it we learn, decency, patriotism, high-thinking, honor, honesty and helpfulness. Through it, and all of these, we are made into better men, better citizens, better husbands, better fathers, better lovers, better legislators, better followers of our several vocations.
"Masonry may penetrate only a fraction of an inch beneath the skin of her followers, but by that fraction of an inch the man who takes even a little of her blessings to himself is a better man, and so the world is a better place for the rest of us. In some of us it strikes in deep, deep. We become soaked through and through with Masonic ideas, and strive, in our feeble, human way, to show forth to the world whatever measure we may accomplish of the perfection for which Masonry strives. Those of us who take it seriously and who love it much also make the world a better place for the rest of us.
"The lodge provides a spiritual home for brethren who may have no other. If one has another in his church, the lodge gives him a second spiritual home to which he may go once in a while and feel even more strongly, perhaps, than in his church the close touch of his brother's hand, the sweet smile of a brother's love, the supporting arm of a brother's strength. To me, my lodge is a rest, a haven, a harbor for a tired mind. When I come to this lodge, whose destinies I guided so long ago, and which I have watched grow from a fledgling little body to a mature organization, I find myself uplifted, strengthened, made whole again. I may come tired, worn, weary with the day; I leave refreshed, invigorated, helped with the reviving of old truths, the remaking of old vows, the renewing of old ties.
"Our ancient brethren had 'cities of refuge,' to which the fleeing man, criminal or oppressed, might run for safety. Masonry is our modern 'city of refuge,' to which we, criminal in intent if we are such, or oppressed with injustice and cruelty, may fly for spiritual comfort and safety, knowing that within the four walls of a lodge is rest and peace and comfort.
"All this has the lodge in particular and Masonry in general, offered since the beginning, to all upon whom Masonry lays her gentle hands. You are the recipient of her bounty, as am I. And so is Brother Filson. We three - and all within these walls - take generously and without stint from Masonry's store house of loveliness, of beauty, of rest, and comfort and love.
"Often I ask myself 'what have I done for Masonry, which does so much for me?' Never do I feel that I have done enough. And Brother Filson, whom I do not know, might well ask himself that, before he thinks of what he might do for the lodge in terms of dollars, and prices and business. If, indeed, he has done one-tenth for Masonry and the lodge, what lodge and Masonry has done for him, he may hesitate. But if he is like the great, great majority of Masons, content to take much and to give little, willing to receive all and give nothing, careless of the structure which millions have raised in the past that he might benefit, unable to understand that to his hands, too, is committed the torch that those who come after may see clearly, he has need of open eyes, and an understanding heart, which alone may show him that for Masonry, which does so much for men, no man may do enough."
The Old Past Master ceased and sat silent. From a chair across the ante-room a brother rose and came slowly forward.
"I do thank you, my brother," he said, "from the bottom of my heart. The Lodge will certainly hear that lecture as soon as the Master wishes it. My name is Filson."