As we approach the end of a Century and, indeed, a Millennium, countless lists are being drawn up on events and people to remember. These encompass the Arts, World Events, Sport, Entertainment, Science, Catastrophes and just about anything else that can be debated. In our country, we recently had a phone-in poll to determine our greatest sportsman of the Century. The winner was our Golf Legend – Gary Player.
Now Gary, for those of you less familiar with him, is a small man for a top sportsman. He came from a humble background where there certainly wasn’t unlimited money to enable him to pursue his sporting interests. As a young man, he was a good all-round sportsman, but there was no practical reason to believe that he was more likely to succeed than many of the other talented young prospects of his generation. Through exceptional hard work, unlimited hours of practice and an incredibly stubborn determination to succeed, he rose to the level of sporting immortal. He is still one of only 4 men in world golf’s history to have won all 4 major championships, and indeed has won 3 of them more than once!
The story is told of Gary landing in a greenside sand trap at a crucial point in a big tournament. Despite the enormous pressure that he was under at the time, he succeeded in blasting out straight into the hole. One of the spectators around the green commented that Gary was very lucky to have finished up with such a good result, to which Gary’s oft quoted retort was “The harder I practice, the luckier I get!”.
So what, you may ask, has this got to do with Freemasonry? Well, I would like to suggest that the rewards our beloved Order affords to Freemasons, are similarly dependant on the amount of hard work, commitment and dedication that individual Freemasons are prepared to invest. As with many aspects of life, the more you put into the craft, the more you are likely to benefit from your investment.
Let me develop this analogy further. I am an enthusiastic, but very average, golfer. I have been for over 30 years. For me, as with many people, it’s just a form of relaxation. I refuse to practice and won’t allow myself to take the outcome of a round too seriously. The result is, that I’ve settled at my same fairly average level and have watched less talented golfers achieve far better results. The truth is, that excelling at golf really doesn’t matter that much to me and I’m very satisfied with what I enjoy for my efforts.
What makes Freemasonry different to me, is that it’s not just a game – it’s a way of life! It provides me with a set of ethical and moral standards which not only have a positive impact on the way I feel about myself, but also benefits those people who are important to me. It affords me with opportunities to assist in charitable activities and creates an environment where I can interact with other men who, like me, are making an honest attempt to improve themselves as human beings and to make a worthwhile contribution to the overall betterment of our society. I really do believe that if all men practiced the principles of Freemasonry, most of the world’s problems would not exist – and I want others to see this light.
If I were to take the same approach to Freemasonry as I do to my golf, how could I possibly make any progress? How could I even start to enjoy the very benefits I joined the order to obtain? What significant contribution could I sensibly make to those around me? Would Freemasonry have any real value to me at all? The reality, brethren, is that it probably would not. To be relevant, Freemasonry needs commitment.
The reality is that, while attending your own Lodge’s BOM and ceremonial workings is an essential start, if you want to grow as a Freemason and enjoy the full benefits of our order, you have to do more. You have to study the ritual work, not just to be able to contribute at ceremonial workings, but also so that you may better understand the messages. You have to get in the habit of visiting other Lodges and supporting and encouraging them in their endeavours. You need to participate in your Lodge’s charitable initiatives.
The 1st degree teaches us that “without enoblement of mind and heart and without steady perseverance in good works, the whole essence of Freemasonry dwindles into nothing”. We are told that “Freemasonry is continued effort to exalt the nobler nature over the ignoble, the spiritual over the material, and the divine in man over the human”. To obtain real benefits from Freemasonry, takes continued effort. The rewards, however, are abundant, and those BB who strive enthusiastically to understand and apply its teachings will readily testify that, in Freemasonry, “The harder you practice, the luckier you get!”.
R Wor Bro Geoff Edwards
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