Monday, December 28, 2020

My Masonic New Year

 I enter my Masonic New Year with the understanding that I am making a fresh start. I begin by discarding thoughts, attitudes, and habits that are not compatible with an excellent life. I let go of whatever caused past discouragement, disappointment, or disagreement. I know that seemingly negative outcomes are desires or goals that are yet to be fulfilled. I am open and receptive to new ideas, activities, and relationships. 

Each day, I can follow a fresh plan of fulfillment. I act on divine ideas that I receive in moments of prayer, and inspiration. These ideas flow through wholesome, positive, thoughts. As I use creative thinking to build, upon divine ideas, my activities and my abilities are enhanced. Therefore, I enter this New Year with optimism, joy, and enthusiasm.

Author Unknown

As Freemasons we are constantly seeking to improve ourselves and the world around us. In 2020, the Covid-19 virus has presented us with life changing events, that have made our primary focus day to day living essentials and our safety. 

 This has been a year of change and sometimes chaos. We may be working from home, perhaps while wearing your pajamas perched at the kitchen table or sitting on the sofa with your laptop all the while your toddler plays at your feet because the daycare is closed. School age kids may be remote learning at home or doing hybrid learning which are both their own challenges. 

We have been unable to attend lodge meetings, family gatherings, religious events or even our kid’s athletic games, if they are even happening. I think we may all be suffering a bit from social isolation, and especially at this time of year, may be missing the comradery of Freemasonry, and strong social connections. 

Throw in a shortage of toilet paper, hand wipes and cleaning supplies, plus having to wear a mask everywhere we go, and our world has certainly changed. 

In this turmoil that has been 2020, we may have been distracted, forgetful or neglectful of working on our Rough Ashlar. But then, maybe 2020, and the lack of activities, has allowed us fresh focus. This will be different for everyone. 

Now as the New Year is rapidly approaching this may be a great time to take a few moments for a bit of introspection, to reflect upon the past twelve months, both the good and the difficult, and reorient for the future.

I wish for you All Good Health, Love, Promise and Hope in 2021. 

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 27, 2020

St Johns Day

Lodge of Glittering Star #322

 Today is St. John the Evangelist Day. 


Monday, December 7, 2020

Masonic Christmas Pudding Canceled due to Covid-19

 Christmas Pudding


To me personally one of the absolute best Masonic events in Minnesota every year is the December meeting of Red Wing Lodge #8. The true focus of the evening is of course the Installation of Officers. In 2006 the lodge wanted to add alittle element of style or pizzazz to the evening.

The evening begins with the gathering of Brothers before the meeting for a hearty meal of Clam Chowder or Chili dinner with an incredibly special dessert. A proper very British Christmas Pudding. If you’re not familiar with Christmas Pudding this is something you don’t just go down to the local bakery and pick one up. This is dish that takes 20 hours to create.

Gary Thomas who is the Past Worshipful Master and a Chef by profession makes it every year for us. The Christmas Pudding recipe that he uses is one that has its roots in Medieval England. Its found in Recipe Books from 1390 A.D. It’s a recipe that is steeped in tradition and ritual. The pudding is pretty much stayed the same for 630 years.

The cooking process usually starts on the Sunday before Advent, called" Stir up Sunday" but Gary makes it during the Thanksgiving time when he has alittle more time.

The recipe has thirteen ingredients to represent Jesus and the twelve apostles. It’s filled with raisins, currents and sultanas oh and alittle suet too. The aromatic warming spices of ginger, nutmeg and cloves are a major part as well.

Each member of the family takes a poke at the mixture and makes a wish for the new year. Then they stir it in the direction of East to West honoring the Magi who traveled in that direction on the journey to the Christ Child. 

The mixture is then placed in cheese cloth and steamed for eight hours. Its then placed in a cool place and brought out in England on Christmas. Gary has a different method. He will bring the wrapped mixture out from time to time and soaks with brandy to keep it moist. He also needs to serve it on the first Monday in December.

After dinner on Lodge night. Gary will bring out the pudding pour on warm brandy. The lights in the dining room are turned off and he lights the pudding. The pudding is aglow in a beauitful blue flame. Sometimes it catches the tablecloth on fire…we have not had to call the fire department yet.

Gary makes a brandy butter and serves that on the side with a beauitful scoop of the pudding. If you have never had it before it’s a very dense, sticky, fully developed flavor with a slight boozy taste. I call it heaven on a plate.

It is a perfect dessert after an excellent hearty meal on a cold Minnesota December night. When the room is filled with a few candles, and your Masonic Brothers.

Unfortunately for us this tonight we were required to conduct our December meeting, and Installation of Officers via Zoom. We were limited to 40 minutes of time, so we were limited on the Brotherhood, and no pudding.

The bright side is that Gary Thomas has taken the Chair of Worshipful Master for 2021.Though making the Christmas pudding is Gary Labor of Love, and so is Freemasonry for him. . It’s going to be a great year for all of us. 




Saturday, December 5, 2020

Ed and the Bucket of Shrimp - A Good Story


It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, 
when the sun resembled a giant orange and 
was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. 
Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp.
Ed walked out to the end of the pier, 
where it seemed he almost had the world to himself.
The glow of the sun was a golden bronze. 

Everybody had gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. 
Standing out on the end of the pier, 
Ed was alone with his thoughts...
and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, 
he was no longer alone.
Up in the sky, a thousand white 
dots came screeching and squawking,
winging their way toward that lanky 
frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls had enveloped him, 
their wings fluttering and flapping wildly.
Ed stood there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds.
As he did, if you listened closely, 
you could hear him say with a smile,
'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket was empty. 
 But Ed didn't leave.

He stood there lost in thought, 
as though transported to another time and place.
Invariably, one of the gulls landed on his sea-bleached,
weather-beaten hat - an old military hat he'd worn for years.

When he finally turned around and began 
to walk back toward the beach,
 a few of the birds hopped along the pier
 with him until he got to the stairs, and
then they, too, flew away.  
And Old Ed quietly made his way down to the end
of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with 
your fishing line in the water,
Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,'
 as my dad used to say..  
Or, 'a guy that's a sandwich shy of a picnic,'
as my kids might say.. 
To onlookers, he's just another old codger,
lost in his own weird world,
feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either 
very strange or very empty. 
They can seem altogether
unimportant ...maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, 
at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write 
Old Ed off, down there in Florida .
That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker.
He was a famous hero back in World War II.
On one of his flying missions across the Pacific,
he and his seven-member crew went down.  
Miraculously, all of the men survived, 
crawled out of their plane,
and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated 
for days on the rough waters of the Pacific.
They fought the sun. They fought sharks.  
Most of all, they fought hunger. 
By the eighth day, their rations ran out. 
No food.  No water.
They were hundreds of miles from land 
and no one knew where they were.

They needed a miracle.
That afternoon they had a simple devotional service
 and prayed for a miracle.
They tried to nap.  
Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose.
Time dragged.  
All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.  
It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, 
planning his next move. 
With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull,
 he managed to grab it and wring its neck. 
He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made
 a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of it. 
Then they used the intestines for bait.. 
With it, they caught fish, which gave them food 
and more bait......and the cycle continued. 
With that simple survival technique, 
they were able to endure the rigors of the
sea until they were found and 
rescued (after 24 days at sea...). 

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, 
but he never forgot
the sacrifice of that first lifesaving seagull.  
And he never stopped
saying, 'Thank You.'  That's why almost every Friday night he
 would walk to the end of the pier 
with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Reference: (Max Lucado, In The Eye of the Storm, PP..221, 225-226)

PS:  Eddie was  an Ace in WW I and started Eastern Airlines!

PPS: Brother Eddie Rickenbacker became a Master Mason in 1922 in Kilwinning Lodge No. 297 of Michigan. He laid down his working tools in 1973.