Submitted by RPC Stephen Balke, General Grand Recorder
The first degree given to a Candidate and his participation in a Lodge of Entered Apprentices gives a good man a road map to preparing himself for personal growth. The ceremony of initiation redirects his focus and broadens his perspective on how he perceives the world. The lecture simultaneously provides direction to expand the lessons of the ceremonial event and seeds the lessons of the ensuing degrees. And, continuing to work in Masonry both charges and encourages his application of these concepts, principles, and perspectives to his daily life outside the Lodge while having the opportunity to practice and understand them better amidst the brethren. The ritual of the Entered Apprentice sets the stage.
We always have a choice to respond or react – in any situation. Many times, we have already automated this decision because of our beliefs, values, experiences, and sensory bias. In a world with many “concerns and employments” and a busy schedule it becomes easy to judge many situations and interactions quickly by relating our immediate (or first) impression to previous circumstances. This automation allows us to judge how we will allow it to affect us and react. Our ceremony is designed to expand the use of the Candidates senses and directs his attention to be “in the moment,” which is the first step in being able to cognitively assess where you are and intentionally decide your response.
Knowledge is great. Understanding is better and DOING something includes both mind and body and gives a person experience. Doing something leaves a person with memories, the lecture reenforces the activities and symbols from the experience and provides further exposure to their meaning. The narrative also gives the building blocks that each of our members use to work together and on themselves as they start to actively participate in Masonry as an Entered Apprentice. The magic that you are introduced to in this degree is having the experience first so you are not assuming, then discussing it immediately for a better recollection.
Lessons in Masonry, my Brother, really start being understood when you are working in the Lodge. Before digging deep, Freemasonry teaches you by example to ensure that your secular matters are in hand before you advance to deeper and more life changing knowledge. Aside from some Lodges having a Room of Reflection, which is intended for you to contemplate your material needs and what should happen if…; EVERY Lodge of Entered Apprentices has a Treasurer and Secretary, a set of duties for each office, and a protocol for how we meet, giving us live examples of how to manage the “items” of life. Having and mastering these abilities is the first step to allowing you to attend the Sacred Retreat without as many encumbrances from the outside world.
Your first step in Freemasonry exists to open your mind and begin the process of teaching you how to see things from different perspectives – to learn. Being able to be in the moment because you have structured your material life to allow it is the fertile ground that allows for your growth. By showing us what is possible, then explaining it, and then providing a safe-haven to practice it, intentionally working as a Mason will provide a “how-to” that applies to all aspects of a man’s life.