Let There Be Light

By: Jason K. McDonald

*October 2015 TLP Community Contest Winner*

I didn’t feel anxious until lights went out under the door.

It was the night I was initiated an Entered Apprentice. I had looked
forward to it for months. What did I feel walking into the lodge that
night? Excitement? Yes. Dear friends and near-strangers shook my hand,
smiling as they asked, “Are you nervous?” No. I couldn’t get started fast
enough. “No reason to be nervous. No reason to be afraid.” Why would I be
afraid? “Just remember everything will be okay.”

They escorted me into a small room and told me to sit. Soft music played
from somewhere around me. And was that incense? A small candle in the
corner, another on a shelf, and the light under the door, were all that
illuminated the room. They told me to reflect on what was about to happen.
They told me it would help me spiritually prepare.

What was I going to find? Why was I doing this? I had tried answering that
for my wife. For people at work. For myself. I *knew* it mattered. I *knew*
I was there for more than just curiosity. But every time I tried putting
the yearning I felt into words I found that everything slipped away. I
thought I understood why I was doing this . . . when you didn’t ask me
about it. But forced out of the hidden recess of my consciousness, my
reasons fled.

And then the light went out under the door. From the lodge room I could
hear talking. I couldn’t make anything out, just voices rising and falling.
The crack of a gavel. And I felt nervous. How did they know I would?

The door opened. They asked me questions. They slipped a mask over my eyes.
No, that wasn’t nervous before. This was nervous.

I can’t describe what happened next as *slow*. No, it was as if I didn’t
realize how frenetic my life had become until this ritual shifted time back
into its proper track. Why did circling the room feel so comfortable? Oh,
the tension was gone. I slipped into an almost-familiar pattern. My whole
body exhaled. I knelt at the alter. I was asked what I most desired.


Oh. There was my answer. The reason I was doing this. The substance of what
I hoped to find. Why did I try so hard to explain it to others? Light. How
could I say more? All the words that escaped my grasp were concentrated
those five letters. But I cannot see how I will ever exhaust their meaning
before I die.

It was over. It was wonderful. But it was also remarkably ordinary.
Ordinarily remarkable? No. No need to be clever. It was light. My spirit,
which had been standing one-half step outside my body for years, was
finally, firmly planted back where it belonged.

What was it I felt then? Contentment? Serenity? Tranquility?

Was that all?

What else was there? Why would I want more?


Brother Jason McDonald is an active Master Mason in Damascus Lodge #10, Provo, UT. A student of the esoteric aspects of the craft, one of his primary interests is how Masonry is an expression of the human creative spirit.

Professionally, Brother McDonald holds a PhD in instructional design and currently is the director of digital publishing at a regional publishing house in the western United States. He is a passionate researcher and writer, and a lover of wisdom in all its forms.







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You're an Entered Apprentice. So What?

You're an Entered Apprentice.  So what?

When is a man made a Mason?  I believe the phrase used in the Entered Apprentice degree is "you are now made a Mason."  This makes sense, because when we speak about it later we say we were "then" made a Mason;  therefore, once you have been through your Entered Apprentice degree you are now a Mason.  Congratulations. 

What follows; what does that mean for you; and, as the title suggests, what does it mean to me... or so what?

It means a great deal actually, and very few men have the true weight of how important this is communicated to them.  First off, you are my brother.  The primary, yet initially shallow, thing that binds us is our solemn obligation.  It is only as good as your honor.  As we grow together, sharing virtue and selves, that honored promise becomes all the more sacred.  It becomes seasoned with trial.  You will find that when you need your Masonic brothers, they will be there.  When you start seeing your sacred promise manifested it gets a little more serious.  I know, because I have seen it.  It is with that authority that I say, I will do the same for you.

You have sought us out.  We did not pitch it to you, or recruit you.  You asked.  You knocked.  You came to us.  Thank you.  The trust that you as an Entered Apprentice put into our hands is so humbling,  that I often feel unworthy.  The only reason that I am here, as a Mason, is because of Entered Apprentices.  Without Entered Apprentices there would be no Masonry.  It might last another sixty years or so, but no longer.  Masonry is the continuation of virtue passed down through the centuries.  The only way to get there is by initiating people like you, our precious and appreciated Entered Apprentice.  

Many men join the fraternity with some attachment in the form of nostalgia.  For some that is their primary motivator.  Along the way, though, most if not all will say that they want to be a better man.  Our members are men who are brave enough to look at themselves in the mirror for one honest second, drop their mask, and decide that their ego will no longer suffice.  As an Entered Apprentice you are already a hero for deciding that what was once good enough will stand no longer.  You have come to a place seeking help, strong influence, and answers.  You have come to slay the dragon and find the light.  There are many things that lead up to your initiation, but this alone is a task not suited for most men.  You are already enlightened, a little.  Me too, but just a little. 

We all came to the fraternity seeking greater truth and enlightenment.  Some wish to understand culture.  Some seek to unravel the mysteries of history.  All, sooner or later, come to realize that they are trying to understand themselves, and their place in this universe.

Manly P. Hall, in Words to the Wise, says, "All progress leads toward truth.  Progress, growth, and development are manifestations of the impulse toward truth, but the means should never be confused with the end.  When we refer, therefore, to the achievement of truth by external contact, we do not mean that reality itself is to be perceived outwardly, but rather that from certain outward contacts, we may gain instruments of comprehension and understanding by which we are better fitted to approach the mystery of truth itself."

We are here to seek truth, that we may know it for the first time.  As an Entered Apprentice you have traveled from the west to the East, seeking Light; however, that Light is not simply dumped on you by the Worshipful Master.  He will help and guide you, as will every brother of the lodge.  Just like when you become an Entered Apprentice you do not automatically gain enlightenment, the same goes for Fellowcrafts and Master Masons.  We are always traveling East.  Together.  In that aspect we are tied to one another.  We expose the spark of our being upon the altar, before the Creator, so that we might get out of the way of ourselves, alter ourselves, and evolve.

This is a journey of the spirit to discover the soul.  Who you are in the beginning makes no difference.  You have come to the sacred altar in hopes of finding the pure essence that lies within you.  We all have performed that act, and continue to do so daily.  This is our kinship.  This is our sacred tie.  It is so righteous and sublime.  Never feel that you are unworthy or outside the circle because you don't "understand the next degrees," or "aren't a Master Mason."  So what?  Do not feel out of place.  Do not feel uncomfortable or shy.  You are charged to converse with well-informed brethren, who will be always as ready to give as you will be ready to receive instruction.  This fraternity is here for you.  We have been waiting for you.  You have done the most important thing any Mason has EVER done.  You may have only taken your first step, but it is the most crucial step that you will ever take. You are so valuable.

We are all Entered Apprentices.  Welcome into our humble fraternity.  To those whose paths may cross with mine:  I cannot wait to see who you are, and grow together.

Brethren, be in order as Entered Apprentices.

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