A few months ago when I came home from Lodge I snuck into my son’s room, like I always do, to check on them, tuck them back in, and give them a kiss on the forehead. As I bent down to kiss my oldest son’s forehead he woke up, smiled his big toothy smile, and asked “how was lodge?” I told him that Lodge was fine and that I got to see his Muncles (Masonic Uncles). He giggled and asked about a few of his favorites, but as I was about to turn and walk away, his face grew sad, his eyes began to tear up, and he said that he really missed me when I was at Lodge and my Masonic meetings, and he asked why would I rather be at Lodge than at home playing with him. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. We had a brief discussion about what Freemasonry means to me, and that I’m not choosing the Lodge over him, and that we all have activities that we do from time to time, and some of those activities can’t be done as a family. Luckily, he perked up and told me that when he grows up he’ll be a Freemason too, and then we can go to meetings together.
While that night ended on an upbeat note, it has really stuck with me, and it has made me really think hard about what Masonic activities I attend, or even agree to undertake.
Even though we are admonished as an EA that Freemasonry should not interfere with our family duties, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a member that has never spent a good bit more time at Lodge than his wife or kids would like. Finding balance between our Masonic and family duties and obligations can be extremely difficult, and this seems to be a constant topic on Masonic pages, forums, and websites. While every man must find that balance for himself, and it is no brother’s place to tell another how to divide or spend his time, it is important that we do take a few steps back from time to time to examine whether or not we have been rightly dividing our time, or if our 24 inch gauge has become skewed. I know for me what started as one Lodge meeting a night, and two weekends a year for the Scottish Rite (what I jokingly called my “Masonic National Guard Schedule”), has slowly but surely ballooned to several meetings and weekend activities a month.
While I have decided to be more selective in my Masonic activities, I am convinced that Freemasonry has made me a better man, husband and father. Our fraternity has given me the tools to not only better myself, but to be a better father to my children, and I will hopefully be able to subtly shape the ashlars of my sons throughout their childhood and beyond.
Freemasonry instructs us to be thoughtful, inquisitive, to be moral and upright in our dealings with others, and it teaches us to not only strive to better ourselves, but to also better those around us and society at large. These are extremely valuable lessons for a father to pass along to a son.
Freemasonry also allows me to spend time with men who help me be the best man that I can be, my brethren constantly challenge and support me, and my brethren have also become an important part in my children's lives. What my children call their "Muncles", are a whole set of positive male role models, which boys and young men desperately need, and which are too often in short supply.
I also believe that Freemasonry is a vehicle that I can use to build and pass my legacy on with. One of the main reasons for me initially joining the fraternity, was that both of my grandfathers were members, so I wanted to do something that would help me connect with them. Although they have both passed, one prior to me joining, I can’t help but feel a familial tie while performing ritual, or when I’m simply studying ritual late at night.
Above all for my children, I want to leave the legacy of a man who tried to be the best man that he could be, a man that loved his wife and his children, a man who was good and true to his friends and those in need, and a man that worked hard to help others. Essentially, I want to be remembered as a good father, and a good Freemason, and I’m glad that those two pivotal pieces of my life help refine and sharpen each other.
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