Let Your Light So Shine
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey
Candle (Public Domain)
‘ If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.’
I learned a new word today: précis. Think of it as reducing a complex concept into something that fits on a bumper sticker. I’m reading a biography of U. S. Grant, and the author used it to refer to the phrase “Manifest Destiny”. A writer at the time of the Mexican-American War used the phrase in a long thesis on why our country was entitled to spread out. Those two words then became the shorthand way to refer to the whole concept of Westward migration and acquisition. You didn’t have to go through the lengthy, time-consuming process of repeating the whole thesis.
It reminded me of several programs that I’ve been involved with, with the help of others, to spread the word about York Rite Masonry to our Brothers in the Symbolic Lodges. For those programs, we try to boil down the lessons of the seven Degrees and three Orders to short sound bites. We speak of the charities our group support, the different aprons and titles we use, the things we share, and the things that make us different. We try not to reduce everything to “bumper sticker simplicity”, but we also don’t want to put our audience to sleep. Rather, we want to waken the desire for more Light.
Aren’t you glad that we don’t short change our candidates, and each other, with a splash and dash version of our beautiful Degrees? Even the “Short Form” versions of the first two Orders contain the real substance of the lessons contained within them. The conferral of each Degree and Order reinforces their lessons for each of us. As we participate in them, or even just enjoy watching them, there is often something new to be learned, something more to be brought to our attention, something else to be seen from a new angle.
Envision York Rite Masonry as a candelabra: each candle is a lesson from our ritual. Each candle is lit by the burning tapers from the Symbolic Lodge. Candelabras come in all different shapes and sizes. They can have only a few candles, or have so many that you cannot move them. They can have spiritual meaning, such as the candles on an altar or a menorah at Hanukah. They may sit on a table or be raised up to the ceiling like a chandelier. But they are all candelabras.
Our Companions also come in all shapes and sizes: not just in body, but also in mind. Some will learn more than others; some, not so much. Some will take part in the ritual, some will not. Some will seek more light, and others will be content to learn from them. But they are all Companions.
As we try to share our Light with new Companions, let us not forget those whose candles have burned low. The ones we learned from, who may walk a little slower, talk a little slower than we remember them. Call them up; see if they need a ride to an Assembly. That’s not just the job of the T.I.M. or the Recorder. It’s your job too. Maybe they just can’t drive at night anymore or feel that no one will remember who they are. Worse, that no one will remember who they were! Let them know that YOU remember. Let them know that their Companions haven’t forgotten them, just because we don’t see them anymore. Bring Light back to them.
You can carry your candelabra, your Light, into all the dark corners of the world. You can carry it back into a Lodge, to show them that we add more Light to their symbols and illustrations. Each new Companion and Sir Knight brightens the Convocation, the Assembly, and the Conclave that they attend. You can share your Light without diminishing it. In fact, it grows with each new candle, each new candelabra.
Let your Light so shine!