By Worshipful Brother Michael Gamble
Delivered January 21, 2021
As is the annual tradition of Arts and Sciences during our annual meeting, I offer you my remarks on the state of our Craft for past Masonic year, and three months.
Twenty-Twenty... So much can be said about the past year. This year has brought us a pandemic, civil unrest, and has forced us into isolation. For the first time in modern history, Brothers had to consider whether it was safe to come to lodge. In those times of discontent when our spirts were low and we needed each other the most, we were prevented from meeting in person. Our meetings were suspended, remembrances for our departed Brethren were brief and far less than they deserved. Our milestones which warranted joyful celebration were marked quietly and privately. Many of our craft’s rich and meaningful traditions had to be set aside in the name of safety. Even our grips, a means by which one Mason can know another are, for the meantime, taboo. There may have been times when we have felt as though this really was “the new normal”.
But fear not, my Brothers. Because although our traditions were temporarily modified, our meetings were momentarily digitized, and our beloved Brothers kept at a distance… Freemasonry, notwithstanding, still survives.
While our routines have been altered, this pandemic has not succeeded in pushing us apart. When social distancing prevented us from meeting in person monthly, we adapted, and we met online weekly. And while meeting in the virtual space can’t duplicate the experience of a live lodge meeting, it had the unique advantage of allowing us to reconnect with Brothers who would not have been able to join us in person. Our discussions were equally as rich, and we had guest speakers were insightful and engaging.
In those times when we dared to return to the physical space and, with caution and preparation, re-entered our Masonic home, we brought that virtual space with us. Through our efforts, we extended our discussions after lodge beyond these physical walls and into the homes of our well known but dispersed Brethren. When our lodge room proved too confined to safely conduct our degree work, we adapted and went outside. What resulted was one of the most impactful Master Mason degrees I have ever been honored to witness.
These moments were able to happen because being a Freemason is not about a lodge room, it’s not a meeting, and it’s not a ritual. Freemasonry is a concept, a way of carrying ourselves that lives and breathes and thrives within all of us. We are inexorably united by virtue and no amount of distance can sever that bond. Twenty-twenty didn’t leave Freemasonry weakened; it challenged us to innovate…to improvise, adapt, and overcome.
My Brothers, you rose to that challenge. You, the Brothers and officers of Arts and Sciences have served this lodge well this past year; nothing that we have accomplished would have been possible without your tireless work. But the work is not yet complete. The officers which you have just elected will have the privilege of shepherding our lodge from this pandemic back into the light. It will be their duty to reestablish the traditions we have been forced to set aside and more so, to welcome our Brothers back to lodge.
We must remember our sick and distressed Brethren and honor our departed Brothers. We must support our new leadership as they strive to bring our physical presence back to the standard that we have previously enjoyed. And it is my hope, that even after we overcome this challenge, we consider incorporating some of our new innovations into our lodge traditions.
Arts & Sciences and freemasonry in general must be ready as our world emerges from our prolonged distance. There will be a new generation of men who will seek our light; it is our duty, our privilege, to keep it lit.
Tonight marks the conclusion of my time as Worshipful Master of this Worshipful Lodge. It has been an immeasurable privilege to serve all of you and to have the honor of helping to shape the future of Arts & Sciences. I cannot thank enough the officers who have worked so hard to keep this lodge going. As I leave the oriental chair, I do so with many cherished memories and with complete confidence in those Brothers who will follow behind me.
My Brothers, the state of our craft remains strong. God bless all of you, and God bless Freemasonry.