Build Your Edifice

Build Your Edifice
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey

King Solomon's Temple
King Solomon’s Temple
(Photo Credit:

Hold fast to your dreams. For if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.– Langston Hughes

My Companion:

King Solomon had some real problems on his hands while the Temple was being built. His most skilled assistant was killed on the job by greedy workers. The men hired to inspect the material being supplied for the building did not recognize an important piece of material when it was brought to them, so they threw it away. He was not permitted to use “real” tools at the jobsite, just wooden mallets. All the material had to be prepared elsewhere, by hand, and then either dragged to the worksite or shipped in and then hauled up a cliff. He had to hope that each piece arrived at the right time, that it was undamaged in transit, and that it fit in the right place.

But King Solomon never lost sight of his dream. He had God’s promise, and that was good enough for him. He followed his dream, the building of the House of the Lord. He had God’s instructions for what materials to use, how they should go together, and what the project should look like when it was completed.

We too have a dream: a dream that, through Freemasonry, we will build a prefect Masonic edifice within ourselves. We don’t have a lot of choices about the material we use: we have only ourselves to work with. We can’t import the finest Parian marble to adorn ourselves. Blue, purple, scarlet, and white is not the best color combination for clothes. Wearing a layer of gold just doesn’t work either. What do we have?

We have our mind, which can search the Volume of Sacred Law for the principles laid down on the Supreme Master’s Trestleboard; they are the specifications by which we hope to erect our inner temple. We have our spirit, which provides us with the strength and desire to do this work. And we have our heart. Your heart is where you were first prepared to be made a Mason. And your heart is where you are building your temporal edifice, with the hope and faith that it will endure beyond the grave.

My father-in-law was a builder. He started as a day-laborer carpenter, working for one of his uncles. He ended his career, before he was age 50, as a general contractor and home builder. He said that he never wanted to build the biggest, most expensive houses. He built simple houses to the best of his ability, for the everyday working people. Never the showiest mansion, full of gimmicks and useless doodads, but a place a man could call home. At age 90, he is still proud of the fact that no one ever refused to buy one of his houses, and that no one ever complained about his workmanship! Truly, a workman who need not be ashamed.

Isn’t this the way we each want to build our Masonic edifice? Not for show, or full of fakery, but a place where a Companion will feel at home when he visits you. A place where the Supreme Architect of the Universe will feel welcome and wanted!