I hope your day is a malted milk ball day, just cause I like ’em.
I recently attended a School of Instruction where I overheard an interesting question. The school was on Masonic Ritual and several current and past ritual instructors were present. For demonstration’s sake some of these instructors were asked to perform parts of our ritual and believe it or not, mistakes and errors were made. The question that I found interesting was, “If all these ritual instructors can’t do it perfectly, then how can you expect us mortal Masons to do it perfectly,” or something like that.
What struck me as interesting had nothing to do with Masonic ritual, but instead the question of expectations. The person asking the question apparently felt that the level of ritual proficiency to which he was expected to rise was determined by someone else. And I wondered, how much of our lives do we live according to the expectations of others? Do we measure our successes or failures by how well we live up to their expectations? And, if I strive only to live up to the expectations others have of me, do I not run the risk of falling short of my full potential? If I allow someone else to determine what’s expected of me, am I not denying myself a basic freedom of being?
Sure, society places certain expectations on all of us: live within the law of the land, tolerate and be tolerable to your neighbors, wash behind your ears, etc. But, those are simply the parameters we accept in choosing to live in a civilized society. Beyond that, though, is a boundless and limitless world of possibilities and expectations in which you get to choose.
You get to choose what is truly important to you. You choose in what and to what level you excel. You determine what brings you fulfillment, and happiness, and joy. It’s a freedom, a basic human right and responsibility, to set the expectations of your life and you should not relinquish that right nor concede that responsibility to anyone.
That being said, I expect you’d like me to get on with it. So, I will. Have a good week, and spread Light and delight wherever you go.
Barbara Gayle and I did a little traveling this past week. I received an e-mail informing me that President Obama is following my updates on Twitter and we decided to celebrate with a mini road trip.
As we began our journey home we came across a roadside sign advertising an estate sale. We had gotten an early start and so decided to stop and check it out. What I found there nearly broke my heart. In one corner of a back room was the near entire Masonic history of the couple who had once shared this home. There were his Blue Lodge Monitors and manuals; his York Rite pins, ritual manuals, and his Knight Templar uniform complete with feathered chapeau; there were his Scottish Rite caps and booklets and cufflinks; his Shrine fez’s and pins and buckles and collar tips, and the uniform for his Foot Patrol unit; there was her Eastern Star jewelry and ball gowns and sashes; and some stuff I recognized as Masonic but couldn’t identify.
I began sifting through these remnants of people’s lives and I came across a pair of white gloves in the coat pocket of the Templar uniform. I should say they were once white gloves. This symbol of purity and emblem of innocence was stained through with the sweat of dedicated service. The fingertips were worn threadbare by the efforts of persistent action. The palms were stained with the accumulated years of loyalty. These gloves bore testimony to a Brother who honored his obligations, cherished his fraternity, and served his fellow man. And here they were, wadded in the pocket of an old dusty coat in a back room at an estate sale.
At first, I thought it a terrible shame that the life of a man who had served so well could be reduced to a pile of stuff in a corner, but then I realized that these things were not his life. They were not his legacy. They were just his things. What matters is not the things we leave behind. It’s the lives we touch and the impressions we make that will last and make a difference.
At Barbara Gayle’s insistence we loaded up all that we had cash to pay for. I don’t know what I’ll do with all the other stuff but as for the gloves, I’m going to clean them as best I can, repair them if possible, and wear them in honor of the Brother I never knew.
Until next time, may your gloves bear witness to work well done.