As my term as Master draws to a close, I’m left feeling conflicted: how strange it is that a Man can feel so proud of the progress and strides made in certain areas while simultaneously feeling angst from falling short in others. Regardless, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on some of the events that have transpired during my time in the East.
I went into my term with the understanding that the older, more seasoned Brethren of Amity had shouldered the burden for far too long. Throughout my time, I had heard repeatedly that the younger guys were the future of the Lodge and that they needed to make Amity their own – and I agreed. To that end, I wanted to start off with a slate of officers that could facilitate just that. Now, every Master wants nothing more than to leave his Lodge in better shape than what was given to him and to also leave his mark in the process, and I was no different. So, I took the opportunity for Amity to pass the torch and I wanted the younger guys to step up and show that we can do this, that this was now our time to carry the load. Doing so proved to be difficult but necessary and the results are a mixed bag of sorts… but I’ll elaborate a little later.
Now, knowing that I was going to lean on the younger guys more, I needed to do things in a manner that would appeal to them. I needed to get Amity to ‘speak their language’ so I rebuilt the website and made it more graphical and inviting. I also worked on giving us more of a presence on social media by creating a new Facebook page and Twitter account. That, plus the new website made our world smaller! Though still in its infancy, we have been able to reach a good number of people on Facebook and those efforts continue today. Twitter has been even more successful: since the launch of the account, Amity has been contacted by Lodges and Freemasons from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, China, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, South Africa and the Philippines! And, whether by coincidence or as a result of those efforts, we were visited by Freemasons from Brazil and Germany!
But the success of a Lodge is not measured solely by its number of visitors or its presence online. Success begins with our devotion to the Craft. So, we set out to learn to be more proficient with our opening and closing ritual. And we accomplished that. From there, we set out to learn degree ritual. And, in part, we accomplished that, too! And from that, came our greatest accomplishment of the year: we conducted our own Initiation of an Entered Apprentice. And, not just one, but two different dates – including a multiple First Degree Ritual with Batavia Lodge where we initiated four (4) members! Now THAT is success, or at least a measure of it!
Then, life punched us in the mouth. Really, really hard. We had a longtime Brother, whom we’ve learned to lean on a little too much, suffer a debilitating stroke. And, if that wasn’t enough, two of our officers were unable to complete their terms as they each lost loved ones. We mourned their losses and we continued to monitor the health of our sick and distressed Brother but, at the same time, the Lodge was now put at a serious disadvantage. We made do as best we could but the end result is far short of what we needed. And while, I know the events that got us to this point were outside of my control, as Master I must own those results and shortcomings.
And, as the old saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” – because that’s exactly what happened. On top of everything else we’d been dealing with, we were hit with a rain storm that our roof just could not shield us from. But, rather than be defeated or take a small scale approach to it, I took the opportunity to have Amity breathe new life into the building. And, with the unwavering support and assistance of Br. Dave Bohnenkamp, the roof that had been plaguing us with problems for years was repaired, once and for all. And we didn’t stop there. The Brethren banded together and, whether by our own hands or with outside assistance, we patched the ceilings, we removed the wallpaper, we painted, we tore out the old carpeting and replaced it with something better, we put new flooring in the library, we reclaimed the Austin Utterbach Room… and while doing all this we also heard a voice from the past in the form of a Square and Compass intricately drawn on the hardwood floor but hidden under carpeting for many, many years.
So here we are. And today, the Lodge is the best I’ve ever seen it; and in my eyes each of my Brothers stands taller and prouder; and Amity’s lights burn brighter and her reach is farther than it has ever been. So while I know that I have erred in certain areas, I step down knowing I left Amity in better shape than when I took office and I left my mark the best way I know how.
In closing, I will share with you some words that mean a great deal to me. Words that I live by and words that I offer to our new Worshipful Master as advice:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- Brother Master Mason & President Theodore Roosevelt
Thank you my Brethren. Serving as Worshipful Master has been one of the great joys of my life.
Ruben A. Moreno