Fall is an amazing time of year that seems to kick our senses into high gear. Fall welcomes our favorite flannel shirt and football jersey back into service as nature treats us to an explosion of fall colors of reds, maroon, shades of orange and yellows that contrast with the rich earth tones of farm fields at harvest time. Some days the air smells crisp and cold, damp and earthy, on other days we enjoy of the smells of leaves; wet leaves, dry leaves, burning leaves, and the subtle smell of decaying leaves.
Fall is a season to hunt and gather, to bring in the crops, harvest the garden, or take a trip to the pumpkin patch, farmers’ market, or apple orchard. Fall is a time of plenty, however, all that fresh food won’t last unless we take care to preserve our harvest. Which brings me back to when I was a boy.
When I was growing up, preserving food was a family affair. We didn’t have a lot of money so Mom did a lot of canning; she canned pickles, tomatoes, beets, rhubarb, applesauce, peaches and other foods. When Mom canned, everyone in the family was assigned a job. Dad boiled and blanched, my brothers and I cleaned, peeled and chopped. Mom always kept a watchful eye to make sure everyone took great care because a misstep could spoil a jar or possibly even the whole batch. Canning food took a little work and we had to take care to do a good job so the food kept for years to come.
This fall is an especially exciting time for Wisconsin Masons. There has been a sharp increase in Degree work in our Lodges and as of this writing, we have over one hundred candidates registered for the Masonic Day of Light on November 4. As a result, this fall we will raise hundreds of new Master Masons. How we care for them after they become Master Masons will determine if we keep them for years to come.
Every member of our Masonic family needs to reach out and make an extra special effort to welcome our new Brothers and their families into our fraternity. To make them feel part of our Masonic family. As we work with these new Brothers to prepare for postings, we must also take time to find out why they joined our fraternity, and then help them to realize their expectations.
For each new Mason we raise, I urge leaders to identify a few lodge members of similar age and interests as our new Brother. Have these experienced Masons reach out to spend time with the new member in between Lodge meetings and do things together that they enjoy; it’s a bonus when whole families get involved. At the same time, we need to keep in mind the need to balance todays rapid paced schedule and demands of working families. In other words, we need to respect time and provide value. Some new members may be interested Lodge or civic projects. Perhaps a new Brother can offer expertise in an interesting subject and could give a short presentation at a meeting. Fund-raisers are another great way get to know people and it can be as simple as just ringing a bell for an hour with another Mason.
We are raising a great crop of Masons this year, but it’s what we do after they are raised that will determine if we retain and engage them. The degree of care we take in our Lodges and Appendant Bodies after they become Master Masons will determine if we preserve them in our fraternity for years to come.
L. Arby Humphrey