To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die

It is the custom of many fraternal societies to come together once each year to remember and honor those friends and brothers who have been called from their earthly labors. The winter and summer solstices are good times for this duty, as both are symbolic of death and re-birth and the cycle of life. In every true brotherhood of men, it is an act of fraternal courtesy to remember those we have lost whom we personally knew and most admired in life.  

But this comradely connection is true of many thoughtful men, even beyond the ceremonies of fraternity. Men remember the men who are no longer with them who made the biggest difference in their lives.

These were the men who showed us what integrity looks like. They taught us that our own transformation to an improved being, fully capable of making a difference in the lives of others, is up to us; and can be realized in the example we leave for others.   

In our fraternal society, those special few who have come before us and been an influence in our own life have always been the agents for this transmission. This is true in our Lodges and our Rites. But, on a broader scale, it is also true in occupations, communities, families and social relationships. The significance and meaning of social honor and integrity can only be carried forth in each generation by those honored men who have lived their life in such a way that the attributes of their good example seem right and compelling to the next generation. We should never forget that the kind of man we are will ultimately be the kind of man others see in us. Then, through us, to those who come after us. This is the chain of union in manhood. This is the legacy of good men.

And it is one reason we annually commemorate the memory of our forefathers. We do this to show manly respect; and we do it to check our own progress against the standards they bequeathed to us.

It is the way legacy works. The real ideals of heroism do not come from movies or comic books. Our heroes are found among those whom we have known and followed and admired to be the best models for our own life. They were once real live men with whom we could relate and touch and talk. They are the men we selected to best represent who we wanted to be like when we grew up. We craved their anointment. And, to a large degree, they now define us.

We face life with their kindness and honesty; their confidence and determination. We confront death with their faithfulness, courage and disinterestedness.

So, you see, if we have paid attention, the examples of the fathers, father-figures, brothers, companions and knights we once knew and most admired have prepared us to be worthy as men in our own time. Our task is to carry on the work which they have furthered so that it may also be said of us, as we can truly say of them, that the world is better because we have lived.

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.




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Being a Father and a Freemason

                  My oldest son Jase playing with my "Masonic Superhero Stuff"

                  My oldest son Jase playing with my "Masonic Superhero Stuff"

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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