The man walked confidently as he held close the hands of the Brothers selected to guide his way in darkness about the lodge. The ceremony was his first as a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry. It was a solemn rite, with words well spoken; a warm feeling, being at the center of such earnest attention.
It was a feeling which was not new to him. He had been in such a place before—not knowing the outcome; yet holding to a faith that all would end well.
He was a Senior DeMolay. It had been a couple of decades now, but he remembered a ceremony from his past which seemed familiar to the one this night. He was revisiting time. At 13, his best friend had invited him to join DeMolay. He had heard some of the other boys in school mention the name. He had no idea what it meant. But he wanted to belong; be a joiner, to be in organizations with his friends. So, on the selected evening, he donned a coat and tie, his friend’s father picked them up, and they journeyed to the lodge hall. It was situated above the grocery store. Strange. He had not noticed it before.
It would become a place which would change his life.
It turned out, DeMolay was unlike any other organization or club he had joined in school. It was special. There was something in the words, even then, that seemed deeper, more lofty, even intimate. He was told it was an initiation. That made it seem all the more eccentric–and important. DeMolay was more than just a club. He had joined an Order! He remembered being told it was international. He suddenly belonged to something larger than his school; his town; he belonged to the world.
Now older, kneeling at the same altar where he had once knelt, his heart was in his throat. He was profoundly moved by the deja vu of the moment. He was once again being initiated.
His experience as a DeMolay had prepared him for this. The familiarity was more than incidental. He felt a connection to something he had once loved; something that had given him stability, and provided a place for centering during some not-so-easy adolescent years. In fact, DeMolay had had a remarkable impact on his life. His early successes had given him confidence, taught him how to be a team player; how to speak, how to lead. In many ways, it helped mold him for manhood. More than anything else, DeMolay had taught him how to be responsible. He remembered feeling a strong bond to the brotherhood then. He sensed this old feeling rising in him again.
And it would be the third time he had experienced it.
In college, he joined a social fraternity. Again, there was a ceremony. Once more, he had been initiated. It, too, had been a solemn thing. Listening to the words now, and flashing back to his college initiation, there was an old familiarity. Had he been here before? Or, perhaps this fraternity called Freemasonry had been with him all along! Could it be that Freemasonry was the source of all the initiations in his life? Is it possible that his feeling of belonging, his identity with a group, his love of fellow association might all be connected with initiation? Does one become enrolled into a group because of its ceremonies? Does a man better define himself by the rituals of his life?
Suddenly, the spoken words became more reverent, more sacred—more personal. He slowly repeated his obligations to his brothers; remembering from his own past the responsibility and accountability required of brotherhood. It would now be up to him to make his shared experience with his fellow Masons a special thing; just as his past fraternal attachments had proven so special.
He was brought to light, as they say—a light which illuminated more than just the room. It radiated across the past initiations of his life. He could see clearly now, could feel the bonding of brotherhood; that kindred friendship with certain others in his community and the world made special by well spoken words in secret association together. Such light penetrates a man’s heart as if it were an ancient sephiroth; filling the bowl of mankind with love and affection.
It is a singular thing for a man to drink in the meaning of fraternity; be invested with the badge of innocence and taught the duties of brotherhood. These were lessons he already knew—lessons started long ago–of which he was now certain had made him a better man.
For him, to be a Freemason was not a new beginning. It was an affirmation; the continuation of a fellow feeling which had always been there—an undivided heart which yearned only for friendship, brotherly affection, and a higher understanding of what is important in being a man.
Such an understanding which comes only to just and upright men.