When you were young remember those birthday and holiday gifts? Which one got your attention? It was probably the biggest box and or the best wrapped. As you advanced in life,
you bought a car, your pride and joy, you maintained it or wrapped it to the best of your ability. Many of us bought a house and made it a home. The way you maintain something or the way you wrap it becomes a reflection of your personality and values.
I own a couple of small businesses. They are always being judged by the public and our customers. The demeanor, knowledge and appearance of our associates and the condition of our buildings, trucks and equipment are an integral part of any successful business. I also believe it is a matter of self-pride and a public display of my value system.
I realize that we, as Freemasons, are to look at the internal and not the external qualifications of a man. That being said, first impressions are lasting impressions. The appearance/wrapping of a candidate, his home and family make an impression on the lodge interviewing committee. Likewise, the appearance and conduct of the interviewing committee makes an impression on the candidate.
The way we wrap or package ourselves is just another example of the “Diversity” within our great fraternity. Our common bond is the box, our principles and tenants taught through our ritual. A Brother sent me the following article, written over 100 years ago and I would ask you to take the time to read it. It’s another example of how we may think things may change but remain the same.
Clothes Make the Man and the Mason
Originally published as – A Proper Appreciation
Masonry in many respects is the same the world over. The language of symbols, the legend of signs, and the tenets are alike everywhere, so that a man may be recognized as a Mason as well in Africa as England, or in Germany as in America. The forms and ceremonies may differ, but the mystic language is unmistakable.
There is, however, a vast difference in the esteem, and appreciation of the fraternity in different countries. We have often been impressed with the high regard our English brethren have for their membership in the Craft. We may say what we will about the clothes not making the man. One who is careful of his dress on all occasions and will always present the very best appearance he can possess, a certain element of refinement that is certainly commendable, and that brother who is careful to appear at lodge meeting in appropriate dress shows an appreciation of the place and the people with whom he is to mingle that is praiseworthy. The man who went to the wedding feast not properly clad for the occasion was made to feel out of place.
The brother who goes into the lodge room in rough, untidy clothing cannot but feel a kind of humiliation if all about him have made a careful toilet. Our English brethren carry their own aprons and gloves with proper official decorations and are proud to put them on, not in a haughty matter but in a commendable pride that they are one of the great family of Masons, and the apron is the outward symbol of that membership. This feeling shows an appreciation of the fraternity.
The question has been asked frequently, “Why are our meetings not better attended?” The trouble is largely a lack of appreciation of the lodge work. There is sufficient in the work of the lodge, the conferring of degrees to interest the thoughtful student. The ceremonies are like the spring flowers, ever fresh, beautiful and new. The flowers have been blooming ever since mother earth began her yield of luxuries, and yet we never tire of them. The morning glory and the daisy, the turnip and the violet are the same year after year, and we cherish and love them the same. And so with the work of the lodge-room, while the ceremonies, signs, symbols and legends are the same, yet there is a beauty about them or fragrance, a very newness, which if we will only look for, we will surely find.
We often fail to appreciate the social side of Freemasonry and that is a cause for lack of interest. Take the combination of lodge work, and lodge sociability, and you have elements of interest and pleasure that should be attractive to everyone.
The friendships of Masonry ought to be the very strongest and tenderest. They are formed within a charmed, mystical circle, that should have the golden thread of fidelity running all through it, and while the experience of many may not be as satisfactory as could be desired, yet there is so much that is pure and unselfish that we should be proud of the fraternal chain that binds us together.
Let us really appreciate the lodge, so that we will not only be glad to assist in the work, but still more ready to study and learn. We will come to the meetings with clean hands and pure hearts, and clad in a style, not only in keeping with the dignity of the place, but showing that we have a high regard for the work and for our fellow-members.
Source – The Canadian Craftsman, March 1898
I realize that we all don’t wrap items the same way and there is no right or wrong answer. Again that’s the “Diversity” among us. I do hope that you find this article thought provoking and worth discussing. You expect high standards from your Grand Lodge Officers in dress, fraternal knowledge and commitment to Wisconsin Freemasonry. How you do wrap the package? Look in the mirror before you go to Lodge. Are you looking at self-pride and success? The Lodge building–does it have the appearance of successful and upscale organization? What impressions have you and your lodge made to the public regarding Freemasonry? How have you wrapped it?
Sincerely & Fraternally,
Dennis V. Siewert