What is Our Purpose
I was talking to a friend this morning and this question came to mind. How can we fulfill our meaning, if we don’t know our purpose? I think this question can be posed in many different aspects of life, but specifically in respect to Masonry, it takes on a deeper meaning to me. A reflection on where we came from and where we are going is critical to understanding our role and purpose as Masons.
Many of us came into Masonry not knowing what the future would hold. For some, we came into the organization as part of a lineage of past brothers, who just like those of a Harvard Legacy, were handed down this great honor. Some amongst us saw something different in certain men that we had encountered throughout life and we wondered what it was about them that set them apart. They seemed to have a distinction, or a certain air about them that separated them from other men. Once it was discovered that they were men of the craft, we may have been prompted to want to become a part of Ancient Free Masonry. Whatever the reason, we now are here.
The third degree tells the story of the slaying of our G.M.H.A. and the building of King Solomon’s temple. However, I ask you now to look not at our G.M.H.A. and the importance of his calling at the temple, but to look at the lowly craftsman. Our G.M.H.A knew his purpose at the temple, but what purpose would one lowly craftsman out of many thousands serve in the building of such a great structure? Ask yourself that question, for are you not a craftsman yourself? From day to day in the heat they toiled, carrying timber, stone, and metals of all kinds to the temple. They followed the designs laid out daily for them on the trestle board. Try to imagine what they contemplated while at labor. We can only speculate as no memoirs from craftsman have been discovered from that time. I would speculate that they felt like some of us when faced with the enormity of a task in which we can see no end. I would think that they felt the pressure of a demanding King, the never ending burden of the expectation of perfection from the G.M.H.A. himself, as well as the doubters that exist in any great or important undertaking. I still believe that even with the day to day duties laid out before them that they contemplated their own meaning. The same ways as many of us do to this very day. Yet I wonder if the craftsman could even fathom his importance in the construction of the temple as a greater purpose than he was not privileged enough to be made aware of or that thousands of years later we would be contemplating his thoughts while making his small contribution to one of the greatest and most sought after structures in history.
We are the Entered Apprentice. We stand on the threshold and promises of tomorrow as we learn from the lessons of yesterday. With enthusiasm and passion we occupy the lodge and offer our ideas to the creation of our temple. This lodge’s foundation was built on the backs of the brothers who sacrificed, and in their sacrifice, I am sure that there was one among them who pondered the question of purpose. Perhaps with no answer, they faded into the darkness of unresolved contemplation and ultimately out of the fellowship, never again to be seen within the walls of our venerable institution. Their names have been stricken from the rolls, and no memory exists of them, save for the stories one or more may share in passing conversation.
We are the Fellow Craft, tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding what was once thought to be lost. With our skillful hands, and a steadfast commitment to perfection, we now sculpt this temple of human form and attempt to make it better suited for the builder’s use, in that spiritual temple, that house not made from hand, eternal in the heavens above. However, this temple differs from that of our brothers in the days of King Solomon, in that it was not destroyed by an enemy, or by the degradation, or by time or geological influences. This temple was brought to its very foundation by one from within. One who called himself brother. He, who stood at this very alter and took the solemn obligation that all who had gone before him had taken. As men walked away in disbelief, some realized there was still a purpose. There was still a design which lay upon the master’s trestle board. There was still an unfinished edifice remaining to be constructed. I am not speaking of the physical building, but more of the spiritual bond that has withstood over 100 years of prosperity and tragedy, of times both good and bad by the founders of our lodge, and their lines that created this foundation. A foundation built so sturdy, and constructed by such skillful hands that there can be no question if these were truly chosen workmen. Still I am sure that there were those silently sitting amongst the craft in the darkness of prolonged contemplation wondering what their purpose was.
We are the Master Masons, obligated, tried, and never denied. We are the overseers in this new and exciting era of reconstruction within our lodge. So, “Let it not be supposed that we have here labored in vain and spent our strength for naught; for our work is with our lord and our recompense with our god.” Now as we wonder what the lowly craftsman thought as he labored not in vain, perhaps never even acknowledged for his great work, and only because he was recorded as a workman on the scroll, do we know he was even there, should we realize now as I’m sure he did then, the meaning of purpose. Think not of the greatness of the contribution, but think of the contribution itself. Did the brothers of yesterday know that we would have to rely on the foundation they set 168 years later? Did the brothers of yesterday know that one day we would be tasked to reconstruct from the ashes what they fought so hard to erect? This brothers, is purpose; a purpose unseen by the eyes, yet known in the heart, of which the effects are felt by so many. The sacrifices that we make for tomorrow, will serve as our purpose for today.