Saturday, May 8, 2021

Celebrating the Life of Dexter C. Pehle

 



Dexter C. Pehle, a great Minnesota Mason, who I looked up to and respected for decades passed away on February 16, 2021. He was a Minnesota Mason for fifty-five and a half years.

Dexter was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 19, 1935. He was a south side kid who graduated from Roosevelt High School with the class of 1953. Just a couple of weeks following graduation Dexter entered the U.S. Airforce and honorably served until 1959. After his military service Dexter had a long career at Sperry Univac as a Systems Engineer.

Dexter was a devoted and loving husband and father. He was married to his loving wife Muriel for over sixty years. Muriel would always attend all the Masonic dinners and events at Dexter’s side.

Dexter enjoyed singing and had a very nice singing voice. I recall someone ask Dexter if he ever sang professionally one evening and Dexter said that he sang in the Keesler AFB male choir. He said he enjoyed it very much, and that he was proud and fortunate to have had that experience.

Dexter joined Minnehaha Lodge #165 when it was a powerhouse of excellent Masonic activity. He was Initiated-Entered Apprentice May 4, 1965, Passed-Fellow Craft June 1, 1965, Raised Master Mason June 29, 1965. He also affiliated with Biwabik Lodge #293 the same day he was raised a Master Mason.

Dexter was asked to join the Line of Officers within Minnehaha Lodge, and he worked his way thru all the chairs and became the Master of Minnehaha Lodge in 1997. Dexter was an active member holding various officer positions until 2014.

Dexter was also an active member of both the York and Scottish Rite. 

Dexter was not just an accomplished ritualist, but he understood the ritual, and enjoyed talking about it. His performance of King Solomon is one of the best that I had ever seem. Dexter drove 200 miles to help perform the Royal Arch Degree in which I was the principal candidate which touched me deeply.

Dexter was a passionate student of every aspect of Freemasonry. He loved to share his knowledge with his Brothers. He was always cheerfully providing Masonic Education in his lodge or any lodge that asked him. I enjoyed lively discussions with Dexter over coffee. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota recognized Dexter’s contribution and awarded him the Minnesota Duane E. Anderson Excellence in Masonic Education Award for the 2003-2004 term.

Dexter was always a welcome sight at any event. When you saw him, he always had a smile, a firm handshake, a kind word, and a genuine interest in you.

One of my favorite stories about Dexter, that I will always remember, was the evening that I asked Dexter if he would join me in the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge at White Bear Lake in January. After I asked him, his face was frozen in shock. Now this is a rare occurrence for Dexter was always poised, and relaxed. I knew I had an opportunity for some fun, so I said “Come on Dexter, a jump in a frozen Minnesota lake in January will be refreshing and fun. Come on let’s do it for the kids!”  With the look of shock still on Dexter’s face, and not wanting to lose the opportunity I said, “well if you can’t jump with me, would you like to make a donation?”  

I have never seen a man reach for his wallet so fast in my life. Dexter reached in and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. Dexter gave a sigh of relief and a smile appeared on his face. As he handed me the money, he said, “Tom, I would love to make a contribution” and we laughed. At the next few masonic events Dexter would bring a Brother over to me and said “Tom, here is a Brother who would like to join your team or make a donation”. Dexter became my straight man, and we had a lot of fun with that project.

Dexter and Muriel moved to California to be near their daughter some years ago. Dexter was an active visitor to Blue Lodges, Royal Arch Chapters, and proudly wore his Minneapolis Mounted Commandery uniform to Commandery meetings. Dexter told me he enjoyed the California weather, and didn’t miss his snow blower.

Dexter last gift on this earth demonstrates how thoughtful, and compassionate he was about people. Dexter donated his body to the University of Minnesota Bequest Program for Medical Research. Even in death Dexter is providing opportunities for future doctors to gain in depth knowledge of the human anatomy, and medical researchers in developing new surgical procedures.

Dexter walked with us on this journey during his life. He celebrated the craft’s success and happiness and provided a steady hand of support when the trail was rough. He shared his light, when our light was dim, to illuminate the path.

Though my Brother Dexter has now taken a different path and has gone home. His light continues to shine in our hearts. We enjoyed each other’s company while laughing and sharing along the way.  I shed no tears, for I have smiles of joy for that time that we shared on this earth.

Until we meet again…Alas My Brother

 

 

 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

To Wait with Patience

Photo from Red Wing Lodge by Tom Hendrickson

 

To Wait with Patience

Tom Hendrickson

Past Grand Master Grand Lodge of Minnesota

 

There are many great and valuable lessons within Freemasonry that can be applied to our everyday lives to improve our daily living and enrich our lives.

During this pandemic, for us Freemasons, it is almost like déjà vu again, for we have been living the very beginning of the Entered Apprentice degree, where the Master of the Lodge directs the candidate to “wait with patience” in a sequestered space.  We are all like that candidate who is sitting in the candidate room waiting for the pandemic to dwindle so we may gather again.

I cannot think of a timelier lesson to explore more closely during this time of chronic uncertainty than patience. The past months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a very test of patience in the extreme. Living under self-quarantine has disrupted the structure and rhythms of daily life, as well as the predictability of our daily lives.  All those events, that as humans we crave, such as family holiday get togethers, birthday celebrations, masonic events and gatherings have all been put on hold until the virus is contained.  We anxiously wonder what the future may look like or what the new normal is going to be.  There are many similarities that can be drawn between that Entered Apprentice and our lives today.

I have not seen any masonic education about patience or waiting, so it must be assumed that all masons possess this trait, which may be true, but by observing society today, maybe this is a good time to give patience more thought and attention.

What is patience? Official definitions vary, but I prefer the Cambridge Dictionary definition: The ability to wait, or continue something despite difficulties, or to suffer without complaining or being annoyed.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines wait, “to allow time to go by, especially while staying in one place without doing much, until someone comes, until something that you are expecting happens or until you can do something”.  If you don’t have one of those three goals in mind at the start then it’s just indecision, procrastination, or you are killing time.

The first three degrees of the Blue Lodge contain lessons for us to build upon to be master of ourselves. Patience is an exercise in self-control; you can say patience is the neglected virtue, but patience is the foundational virtue that supports the development of other great moral strengths such as wisdom and courage. Patience is also needed before we take on our serious obligation of learning to subdue our passions.

I mentioned patience as a foundational virtue. What is a virtue? A virtue is a behavior displaying high moral standards. So, does patience show a high moral standard? You bet it does. Patience is essential to self-control.

We are not born with patience. Patience is a learned skill that takes practice to master, but it is a skill that is essential in our daily lives. Patience has been described as like a muscle that needs to be exercised on a regular basis for it to be effective. The more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

Having patience means we can wait calmly in the face of frustrations, difficulties, obstacles or struggles.  This ability to continue, despite adversity, is a skill all of us need on during our lives. Whether stuck in a traffic jam, standing in a long line at the grocery store, or even in lodge when the secretary reads the electric bill.  We certainly have needed this skill during the past year with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic.

Patience is a state of mind, where you deal with your thoughts and emotions, between the experience and your reaction. To have patience, ultimately means dealing with your own thoughts and emotions. Patience requires you to control your thoughts, words and deeds.

Patience, on the surface, appears to be passive, but it is an active and purposeful state. Patience is a decision-making process that allows us to make better decisions. Patience allows us to take a pause that allows us to gather our thoughts and manage our feelings. Patience allows us to observe more intently, ask questions to understand the situation more clearly, communicate better with a tempered response, and most importantly, find peace in situations that are outside of our control.

I would guess that hardly a day goes exactly as we planned, free of any intrusions or without any adjustments. Who plans to have a car accident on the way to work? Accepting the fact that these intrusions or difficulties are part of normal life and exercising calm will help us all be more patient. If we can work to accept and tolerate a situation, without becoming upset or angry, that helps us manage our emotions and choose what behavior that we wish to respond with.  We cannot choose our feelings, for our feelings just happen, but we can choose what behavior we wish to display.

Other times, patience is needed for those daily hassles or obstacles that are beyond our control. Like, when your boss tells you must work late but you must also drive your kid to soccer practice, you walk to your car after lodge and discover you have a flat tire, the air conditioner breaks down on the hottest day of the summer, or your computer crashes and neither you, nor your teen age kid, knows how to fix it.

A critical time we need patience, is to overcome setbacks or hardships in life, like the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing a divorce, medical treatments such as cancer treatment, or especially when we are helplessly waiting to see if those treatments are working for a loved one, or coping with the death of a family member. Patience for the long term is essential to life.

For parents’, patience is an absolute necessity, during even the best of times. During this global pandemic, life is more stressful with this forced togetherness and so many unknowns. With working from home and the kids schooling from home, this can result in a lot of clutter, noise, fear and confusion. We adults can become irritated and feel like we are “losing It” or simply feel overwhelmed. We also need to model patience for our children and help them cope with changing situations.

When needed, give yourself the “quiet time” to take a step back, take a breath, and collect your thoughts before losing your patience. The entire household is in this together so patience and understanding of each other are essential, as hard as that can be some days.

Sometimes, in what may be the most difficult challenge we face, we need to be patient with ourselves.

In this fast-paced chaotic world that we live in, it seems there is always the constant pressure to do more with each minute of the day or that nagging voice in the back of our minds is telling us to do more, and do it perfectly.

We make notes in our phones at odd hours of the night. Our pockets are filled with sticky notes and scraps of paper. Our to do list becomes a never-ending monster that is never satisfied leaving us frustrated, restless and impatient. It can become overwhelming and can lead to being highly self-critical of ourselves for our self perceived failures. This may lead us to become angry and frustrated with ourselves.

Again, as with our loved ones, we just need to take a step back, and be patient with ourselves first.  To realize that we are all human and no one is perfect.  We all do the best we can and be kind to yourself as well as to others.  

Patience when practiced, can calm our minds, preserve positive emotions, and it can guide us to view life’s’ daily struggles in a better way. Developing the skill of patience can help accepting life’s daily frustrations and can help us to not lose our temper.  There is no real point in losing your temper over the things we cannot control.

The flip side of patience is impatience.  Impatience usually happens when we refuse to accept a situation that we have no control over, like getting stuck in traffic or a meeting being delayed because someone is late.

Rebbetzin Chana Heller in her article, Developing Patience: The Foundation for All Relationships describes impatience like this.

“Impatience is a form of anger. There is a continuum. On the one end we are impatient or slightly irritated and then we start ramping it up to being annoyed, indignant, angry, exasperated, furious, and finally totally enraged. In each case we are angry because our will is not being done and we can’t tolerate the pain that causes us. It’s just a matter of degree”. (Heller, 2021, aish.com)

I have observed so many impatient and angry individuals since the pandemic officially began.  It made me stop and reflect, in general, on why our society has become so impatient, and the importance of patience.

I believe that one reason that has contributed to our society becoming more impatient can be traced to technology and the internet.  The speed and amount of data available to all of us has led to a sense of instant gratification.  Today, we live in a world, that because of technology, we can instantly connect with our friends and loved ones in real time although they are thousands of miles away. We can connect while canoeing the Boundary Water Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota, climbing mountains in Colorado, or enjoying a cruise in the Caribbean.

In this modern high-tech era that we live in, where almost everything that we desire is just a click away, technology had caused a cultural shift in our society and has conditioned us to expect immediate answers 24/7 all at our fingertips. With the click of a mouse, we can access information, download movies or entire seasons of television shows, and order any kind of consumer merchandise. We have come to expect information in a second, orders to be delivered within hours or the same day, and the movies and entertainment to appear within seconds. The problem that this high-tech era has fostered is the expectation of instant gratification or instant solutions.  Expecting instant gratification for everything is counter to having patience and can get in the way of us coping with problems or other things in our lives that require more time or obtaining things that may require more time. Do you want to have that serious discussion with your wife or just send an angry tweet to her twitter account?

Certainly, the pandemic caused added stress to everyday life, which can add to impatience. For those fortunate to continue working remotely during the pandemic, there is the stress of trying to find a reasonable line between work and home life.  We may be working longer hours or find it difficult to disconnect from work.  Many feel pressured to show increased productivity while working remotely, believing if they do not, their job could be in jeopardy.  For those with children at home, there is added pressures of wearing multiple hats throughout the day.  We are checking and responding to emails at all times of the day and sleeping with cell phones to be always “available”.

Another area where I observe impatience is while driving.  Over the years, it seems that all streets and highways have become more congested, making it more difficult to reach out destinations or the potential for all of us to become more impatient while driving.  There appears to be a dramatic increase in negative driver emotions leading to honked horns, rude hand gestures, tailgating, aggressive driving and ultimately road rage.  If ever there is a time exercise patience it is while we are driving.

For thousands of years theologians and philosophers have exalted the qualities of patience and identified it as an important virtue and important component of moral excellence.

There has been quite a lot of scientific research conducted on patience and the researchers have found that there are health benefits of being a patient individual. Impatient people are often angry and stressed, resulting in stress related illness such as hypertension and heart disease to name a few. Patient people tend to, overall, have lower stress levels and fewer physical illnesses related to stress. According to a 2007 study by Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker and UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, patient people enjoy better mental health, can cope better in stressful situations and tend to experience less depression.

Patience is a decision-making process that can allow us to make better decisions. Patience allows us to take a pause, gather our thoughts and feelings, before expressing ourselves. Patience allows us to temper our response, preserve relationships with those we care about and interact with people more pleasantly. Patient individuals are viewed more positively by their employers’ co-workers and by lodge brothers. Patience allows us to be approachable, to learn, conquer a complex task, accomplish long term goals.

If you are perceived as being impatient people may perceive you are impulsive, insensitive, and even arrogant. Others may think you are a poor decision maker, someone who takes short cuts and of being short tempered. At lodge, if you gain a reputation of having poor people skills and being insensitive, you may find yourself sitting alone or that your voice may not be heard as loud as you would like.

In our Masonic life, patience is a necessity. From our relationships with our Lodge Brothers, learning our Ritual and its meaning, working on committees or projects and especially while leading the Craft.

Patience makes us better leaders and mentors. As Masonic Leaders we need to establish relationships and work with our Brothers to develop their skills and understanding of the craft. As leaders, we may need to spend extra time with our Brothers to help them learn and them to develop that sense of belonging with other Brothers.  For the Masonic tradition to continue there should be allowance for Brothers to develop and grow while passing out knowledge to the next generation of leaders.

With the vaccines being expanded to more individuals, this gives me hope that our lives will be returning to normal soon. One of my friends, he wishes the isolation to end because he had watched everything on Netflix. Another friend wishes to find a different family to quarantine with.

Given the prolonged period of self-isolation and uncertainty, it not unexpected that we are growing tired or frustrated. I think I can say that we are all suffering a bit from limited human contact and Zoom fatigue.

I think we all look forward to the day when we can all return to our lodges and experience, in person, the sound of the gavel, announcing our meeting is to begin. Although, some of us may need a refresher on getting dressed, combing our hair (for those that have hair) shave and wear a suit instead of sweatpants.

We just need to be patient a bit longer. 

For, like the Entered Apprentice, we will find the door to our Lodge and enter, leaving the darkness, anxieties and helplessness of the world behind for the light and warmth of our Brotherhood. 

For, we have waited with Patience.


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Red Wing Lodge # 8 Adopt a Highway

  

Photo by Tom Hendrickson

Red Wing Lodge #8 is proud to have joined the Minnesota Department of Transportation “Adopt a Highway” program.

The Lodge has made the commitment of picking up litter twice a year, on a two mile streach of highway 61 on the Eastward approach to the City of Red Wing.

The Adopt a Highway has many benefits for Minnesota. The volunteers picking up litter along the states highways allows MNDOT to focus on highway safety such as potholes, guard rail repair etc.

Last year volunteers collected 40,000 bags of litter, saving the Minnesota taxpayer 7 million dollars. It also allows the participants in making a contribution to a cleaner environment.



Photo by Tom Hendrickson

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The 169th Grand Lodge of Minnesota Public Installation of Officers

 


At 1:00PM on April 10, 2021, The Grand Lodge of Minnesota held its 169th Public Installation of Officers at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. 

In this COVID environment, that we are still living in, there have been many safety measures instituted to ensure a safe gathering for everyone attending. These safety procedures ranged from assigned social distanced seating to limit the number of attendees (95), simulcasting of the Annual Communications and Installation of Officers to various locations, mandatory masks, and a selection of scented and unscented hand sanitizer strategically placed around the building. 

The secure live video feed was sent to ten Lodges and Masonic Centers across Minnesota, (Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Mankato, Windom, Litchfield, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Hibbing and Duluth). This way all Minnesota Masons across the state had the opportunity to view the Grand Lodge activities. This video feed took a lot of work by many dedicated Brothers, and my hat is off to you...Thank you! 

This year the newly installed Most Worshipful Grand Master of Minnesota Masons is Rolf M. Widstrand. MWB Rolf has a special kind of history. First he is a Lewis (a Son of a Master Mason), but Rolf also follows in his Father’s footsteps for Rolf's father, William W. Widstrand, was the Minnesota Most Worshipful Grand Master of Minnesota Masons in 1971. To think that MWB Rolf was installed fifty years to the day that his father was installed is very special. 

Here is an unfair photo of my Grandmaster just moments after his installation. I will dutifully post his official portrait when I receive it.


As a duty-bound permanent member of the Grand Lodge I sat in my assigned seat at the installation. As I was waiting for the installation to be begin, I began looking around. I noticed that the seat directly in front of me had a brass name tag which meant that one of the Brothers donated money to Minnesota Masonic Charities to sponsor a seat in the beauitful auditorium. When I read the name on the plate I had to chuckle. Here is the photo.


Our Minnesota Annual Communication is a special time for me, though, over the decades, I have been to most. The format each year is the same, but it's hard to describe how they are all different, and special in their individual way. Last year when the pandemic was at its height, we were unable to gather, and I felt that something was missing from my life. This year even with the restrictions, and not having the opportunity to spend time with my Bothers, it feels fulfilling to be able to attend in person.


I will admit, even with the restrictions, I still snuck in a few handshakes, and managed a hug or two when no one was looking.



Thursday, January 28, 2021

I am the Guy.................





I am the guy who asked to join your organization
I am the guy who paid his dues to join.
I am the guy who stood up in front of you and promised to be faithful and loyal to the Fraternity
I am the guy who came to your meeting and no one paid any attention to
I tried several times to be friends but they all had their own buddies to talk to and sit next to.
I sat down several times alone but no one paid any attention to me.
I hoped very much that someone would have asked me to take part in a fund raising project,
activity, or something. No one saw my efforts when I volunteered.
I missed a few meetings after joining because I was sick and could not be there.
No one asked me at the next meeting where I had been.
I felt it did not matter very much to others whether I was there or not.
The next meeting I decided to stay home and watch TV.
The following meeting I attended but no one asked me where I was at the last meeting.
You might say I am a good guy, a good family man, who holds a good job, loves his community
and his country.
You know who else I am? I am the guy who never came back.
It amuses me how the heads of the organization and the members discuss why the organization is
losing members.
It amuses me to think that they spend so much time looking for new members.
When I was there all the time.
All they needed to do was make me feel needed, wanted, and welcome.


Author Unknown

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Masonic Book Club is Making a Come Back


 Thanks to the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction the Masonic Book Club has made a comeback after an eleven year absence. 

The original Masonic Book Club was formed in 1970 by two Illinois Master Masons, Alphonse Cerza and Louis Williams. They formed and operated the MBC within the Louis L. Williams Library- Illinois Lodge of Research which was headquartered in Bloomington Illinois. 

The club originally was limited to 333 members, but had grown to nearly 2000 members in its hay day. I was told that they sent books to members in thirty different countries. There were 1083 members when the club dissolved in 2017. 

Starting in 1970 the MBC released one book a year focusing on great Masonic works, important masonic works, rare documents, hidden treasures that were out of print or difficult to find. The books were a facsimiles of the original works, allowing the modern reader to view the book as it was originally published. The last book was sent to its members in 2010.

For a complete list  click here

Each book had an introduction penned by a prominent scholar to set the stage for the reader, and prepare the reader for the content of the book.

Each book was hardbound, case wrapped in blue fabric, The cover and spine are embossed usually in gold or silver foil. The leaves are of quality paper. The book was wrapped in a opaque dust jacket for shipping. What I thought was cool that some of the dust jackets had a spider web design.  There were two editions that were red. These were published jointly by the Masonic Book Club and Scottish Rite Northern Jurisdiction.

Photo of Spider web paper here


The last book released by the MBC was in 2010 "The Evolution of Freemasonry" by Delmar Darrah.  after its Publisher and President Robin Carr retired. That same year, after providing forty years service to Freemasonry, the board of directors decided to dissolve the original MBC. 

In 2017 the last president of the MBC transferred its name and assets to the Scottish Rite Supreme Council Southern Jurisdiction.  

On September 16, 2021 a press release was issued that the Masonic Book Club had been reactivated by the Supreme Council S.J. The newly revived Masonic Book Club will have a new business model, but will continue the old traditions of publishing classic facsimile Masonic books. The new series of books will not be individually numbered as in the original MBC in order to keep the prices down.

Each new issue will include a scholarly Introduction, and a Index.( I was pumped to hear that for the index is a great resourceful tool for those of us who do research)

Members will receive a semi-annual electronic newsletter that will be sent out on or near the two St. Johns Days. The newsletter will provide information on books that are in production, and the publication details. Members will be asked what they would like to see in future books. 

The future book releases will be based on feedback from its members, and selected by an editorial committee consisting of Arthuro de Hoyos, S. Brent Morris, and others. 

The estimated cost will be approx. $25.00 plus shipping and handling, but Im sure there are many factors that will effect the exact costs in future editions. 

If you have as many books from the Scottish Rite on your bookshelf as I do, you are well aware of the  high quality of the books design and construction. I am confident that the new MBC editions will meet or exceed their normal standards.   

To learn more and how to join Click here

The new Release..."The Perfect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry and the Holy Royal Arch". This will be Volume 42. The new Masonic Book Club is continuing the numbering system where the old Masonic Book Club left off. 

To view Click here

I think its wonderful to see that The Craft will once again have a new access to great Masonic works with the continued traditions of quality books.