Every active Freemason has within himself the ability to improve his Lodge and to move it forward. Our fraternity is a society of friends and brothers whose ritual and ceremonies are intended to provide a shared, common experience that is the beginning of a lifetime of friendship. However, Freemasons too often focus on the “problems” of Freemasonry rather than on the true glory of it - the making and keeping of friends among those who otherwise would have remained at a perpetual distance.
Our rules, like our ritual, are fairly straightforward. However, like our ritual, our rules often become an unfortunate stumbling block for those who are not willing to familiarize themselves with them and their meaning. Within the basic framework established by our ritual and rules, there is much work left to be done to make a Lodge complete. Its adornments, be they successful or failures, are left to the Brethren of a Lodge to create.
Like our operative forefathers, who actively sought the skills and new techniques developed at other successful building sites, so should the Freemasons of today look to successful Lodges to learn how to do things a little differently or a little better. Doing things “the way we’ve always done them” is not a key to future success. The desire to get back to the old days when everything was grand is a classic desire of mankind. Whenever the road becomes difficult, mankind looks back to what it believes was the utopia of a bygone day. It is true that we can find inspiration in and learn from our past, but we must constantly be focused on worthwhile Masonic experience today – one that meets the needs of the current members of the Lodge.
Freemasonry has been able to pass on its gift of friendship from one generation to the next, not because it has held onto a ridged orthodoxy, but because the “symbology” of Freemasonry is such that each generation is able to adapt it to its own needs. Freemasonry of the post Second World War era was not the Freemasonry of the Civil War. Freemasonry of the Westward Migration was not the Freemasonry of the American Revolution. Every generation has found in Freemasonry and made of it that which it needed to continue on the rough road of life. A sage of yesteryear put it well when he wrote, tradition is not an urn for ashes; it is the passing on of the flame.” If we are to continue the light of Freemasonry, we would do well to remember that admonition.