On Tuesday evening, June 12, I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice into the Divver lodge #349 in Anderson, South Carolina. As I reflect back over the evening of my initiation, the one word that keeps popping into my mind is "impressive". I was so impressed by the many events of the evening: From the friendliness of the members, to their devotion to the craft; from the seriousness and solemness of the ceremonies, to the memorization displayed by the team conducting the ceremony. It was certainly an impressive evening--one I'll not forget.
As you have probably read in my earlier posts, as I waited on the process from petitioning to initiation, things seemed to be moving along at a slow pace. This, of course, was only a reflection of my impatience. But then, "Bam!" things started happening quickly. My initiation was scheduled for just two days after I spoke with the investigating committee!
On a side note, the night of the initiation was bitter-sweet. On the down side, I was disappointed because it turns out that several of my Mason friends who were very instrumental in my decision to join were unfortunately not informed of the night. They actually attend different lodges, so it's completely understandable that the lodge I joined would not have informed them. And I simply neglected to let them know as I was all caught up in the moment. But the good news is that I met a group of guys that night who are sincere, friendly, and are certainly worth getting to know better. I will make sure that my friends are invited to my Second degree ceremony.
Obviously, I won't go into any details of the initiation--what went on inside the walls of the lodge will stay inside the walls of the lodge. If you really want to know the details, go seek out a Mason, and ask him about joining. That's really the only way you'll get any accurate picture of what it's all about. I will say, though, that I was thoroughly impressed by the members who conducted the initiation and lecture. Everything was done from memory, and it was done well. After all was said and done, several members commented about their mistakes and stumbles, but really, they are their own worst critics. From my vantage point, it was very well done. Did I say I was impressed?
Our lodge is very casual in appearance and attire, unlike the glitzy, expensive-looking lodges you see in many pictures. But it has a close, intimate feel, and the ceremony was taken very seriously. What was most amazing about the initiation (the entire evening, in fact) was that it was "all about me." I was the only candidate, so the evening was devoted to my initiation. The meal, the initiation, the lecture, the social time--all prepared and conducted for me. That busy men would take time out of their lives to prepare and conduct an event spanning several hours specifically for me is truly amazing and very humbling. Yet the excitement, joy, and dedication that was evident in everyone present really spoke volumes to me about their devotion.
After having read numerous articles on the 'Net, and reading the excellent book, "Freemasonry For Dummies", I thought I may have spoiled some of the evening, but it turns out that I simply didn't know what to expect. Though I probably did read more than most would, none of what I read spoiled anything. In many ways, some of my prior knowledge and information helped me to better understand the initiation. The prevailing mantra during the evening was, "Everyone here went through the exact same thing." I wasn't sure to be comforted or intimidated! The whole evening was at the same time solemn, exciting, humorous, friendly, unnerving, intriguing, educational, and informative. I can't wait to go through the remaining two degrees.
So, the wait is over, and I am now an Entered Apprentice Mason. But like so many of the steps in life's journeys, this is just the beginning. It is now time to work. My proficiency work will consist of lots of memorization. Based on my reading about how other lodges conduct the examinations, it appears that the South Carolina lodges don't cut any corners. Much must be memorized. But it all seems manageable, and it's exciting to learn. The Master of the lodge said that he will schedule my Fellowcraft degree in 28 days with two other people--if I can learn the required material.
I look forward to the coming weeks as I strive to learn what's required, and hopefully earn my second degree. I'll continue to post my thoughts as they come.
This is my tenth article about my experience in Freemasonry.
- PC Magazine, 2006
- PC Magazine, 2006