Saturday, December 29, 2007

Loss and Hope

A Message by George Carlin: (This is a false attribution. The actual author is Dr. Bob Moorehead, Pastor of Seattle's Overlake Christian Church)

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Fr eeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and those of us that pray, pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people....Who cares?

George Carlin

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhuto Assasination



It's so sad to hear of the assassination of Ms. Benazir Buhto. It seems singularly ironic that during the festival commemorating the offering of Isaac by his father, Abraham, Eid-al-Ad that we should be reminded of the continuous sacrifices being made daily on the altars of intolerance and hatred.
This is sad, not just for the statement of the politics of violence that plagues this important U.S. ally, but the loss of a brave person to monstrous passion. She must have known of the danger of returning to Pakistan, and she still felt called to try to return democracy to her country.


Agree with her politics or not, we are all diminished and endangered by this act.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fishing Report

I went fly fishing on last Tuesday. It was cold. Cold enough that I got ice in my mustache. It's been a while since I had that experience. I hate to think what made the ice, but it's a nifty phenomenon. I thought that this fishing trip would be about as productive as fishing in a bucket in my back yard, but I went ahead. The sky was gray, the water was crystal clear and very, very still. No sign of fish on the surface, so searching was in order.

Recently I've really been enjoying nymph fishing. For those of you who aren't fly fishermen, nymphs are the underwater form of the flies that we usually try to imitate in fly fishing. Most of the flies you see over and around water are very short lived creatures in the air, but have lives of one to two years under water. Under water they are fearsome predators; in the air they are harmless and beautiful, there only to make love and die.

Nymphing is blind hunting. The fisher turns over rocks to see what kind of critters are living in the water, and then tries to match these with something from his tackle box. (boy, I just noticed how many masculine pronouns I'm using, but "his/hers or theirs" or whatever is so awkward, so just assume the masculine is embracing the feminine) These little bugs are usually very alien looking. Most of mine are what are called "attractors" rather than imitations. They are generic. Here's a picture:

beadhead2 What's this supposed to look like? Just about anything crawling or swimming around under water. The feathers near the head look like legs, I guess.

Many fishermen attach a small float above the nymph, that lets them know if a fish has grabbed it. I usually don't. I can feel the tug or resistance, and it's usually just a light drag on the line, when a fish takes the bait.

How does this apply to Freemasonry? In many ways. First, there's brotherhood. Most flyfishermen are friendly to other, brother flyfishermen. Most act with courtesy and are more than willing to chat and give advice; my experience is that most will share information on their favorite places to fish and how to catch fish there.

Another similarity to Freemasonry is harmony. There's the harmony mentioned above, but there's also harmony with the environment. When fly fishing, you are deep in nature. Fly fishing is sometimes called "the silent sport," because there's none of the motor noises, none of the splashing and bashing of lures, or the buzzing of lines; none of the jerking the fish out of the water. The fly fisherman needs to know the water and the animals in it: the bugs and the little fish as well as the fish being targeted. He sees and hears the water, the trees (or he gets tangled up in them) and the birds and other animals around about. The fly fisherman is immersed in harmony with nature.

Another similarity is service. Fly fishermen along with other fishermen are conservationists. We are dependent on clean, cold water to find the fish we seek. We work to preserve the environment. We learn some of the more esoteric aspects of environmentalism, that others might not consider, such as the negative affect of ski areas on the aquifer, or how to sweeten an acid stream.

I find nymphing is also analogous to Masonry in that it is a seeking. Often a seeking in the dark, or through the mystery of the water's surface. You are blind to what is going on with your bait, and blind to what affect it is having on the others in the stream. Your conductor is in your fingertips, guiding by touch on the rod and line. You are connected to this world by a line wrapped around your hand, and only when notified by a tug on the line is the hoodwink removed, and some light admitted.

Finally, there is always something else to learn in Freemasonry and Fly fishing. Learning from the tradition, and learning from the young Turks. Innovation and tradition blend in both. Service and harmony and brotherhood will preserve them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Service

There's been an advertisement on the radio recently about an old lady who lives alone.  Her neighbors think about calling or visiting, but they don't.  The narrator goes on to say that the lady almost had her first warm meal in a week, and almost got help to get to the doctor, and almost got to go out and have friends.  But no one called, so none of this happened.

empty lodge room

In our lodge, there are nearly 300 names on our roles.  7-15 People come to most meetings.  More come to special meetings, and many more, up to 100 (including guests) come to really special events, like installations, and events that have big meals attached.  Why are there so many at the special events?  Why are there so few at the regular meetings?  It's because someone called and invited the people to the special events; it's because these events have special programs that involve and interest people, and they're told that they're going to happen.  Regular meetings aren't even shown on our website.

Our Worshipful Master had a program planned for alternative educational meetings regularly, and regular social events.  One or two of these happened.  They were pretty well attended.  Special people were invited, and they brought guests too.  The key word is INVITED.

When asked why we don't invite the brothers on our roles who never come, there are many reasons why it won't work.  All the methods of inviting them require work.  The brothers are too old; they're not interested; no one knows them; they don't know anyone; it ain't done that way here.

Which brings me back to the advertisement I opened with.  How many are like that old lady?  How many are waiting to be told they're wanted?  How many have no way to get there?  How many need a visit?  How many need to have Friendship and Brotherly Love expressed and shown to them?

So you're a Freemason, so what?  What's next?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Service

I have a little girl basset hound named Ginny. Most of the dogs I've owned in my life have been hounds, and quite a few bassets. Actually, I guess she's a woman basset hound, because she's about six years old. Middle age for a basset. Ginny came to us when she was five years old. She had been part of a hunting pack, and had been engaged in field trials all of her life to that point. She has a great voice and a good nose.

Ginny lived outside in a kennel all her life until she came to live with us. She lived with a guy-dog named Phantom, because he looked like the Phantom of the Opera, with 1/2 his face white. Phantom, due to a bad experience with surgery, became somewhat neurotic. He was afraid of adults, and took out his frustrations on Ginny. Domestic violence got so bad that she had to be spayed. She has a shredded ear and a scar on her nose as well.

Well a spayed dog is of little value to a breeder, and there is a belief that neutered dogs don't hunt as well as those that are intact. So Ginny was to be disposed of, and we entered the picture at the right moment. And Ginny came home with us.

No one at my house was totally happy with this arrangement. The boys wanted some big manly dog, and my wife wanted a little cute dog, and Ginny ain't either of these. The cats weren't very happy either. Ginny had never lived in a house, and hadn't even been beyond the basement in her whole life.

Long story short: Ginny has a new job. She isn't chasing bunnies or dropping litters. Her job now is protecting the family from the evil sofa. She holds it down all day, so it can't get to us and do us damage. This is a picture of Ginny at work. She even has a Myspace account. Life is very different for Ginny now. I think we have made her more comfortable, and that she's enjoying life better. I think we have served this little critter in a way it would be good for all of us to be served.
What do we want in life? Security, friends, a bit of comfort. And the opportunity to serve. You know, by allowing ourselves to be served, we are serving.
Brother Joseph Smith, Jr. said that friendship is one of the most basic principles of life and religion. It is one of the most excellent tenets of our institution as well. "I do not dwell on your faults, and you shall not upon mine. Charity, which is love, covereth a multitude of sins, and I have covered all the faults among you."(Documentary History of the Church, 5:401). We don't dwell on Ginny's faults and she doesn't on us. The prettiest thing would be to have no faults, but until then, forgive.


What This Blog is About

This blog is the thoughts of a Freemason. It's not affiliated with any Masonic body, and doesn't speak for Freemasonry in any sense of the word. My purpose is to raise questions, not dictate answers. If you read this blog, please comment; please subscribe, so we can look for answers to these questions together.