Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Honors Banquet

Last evening the Des Moines Valley hosted an Honors Banquet for the members who had attained the KCCH and Inspector General Honorary 33rd. It was a very gracious and special evening. The Knights of St. Andrew (KSA) are to be commended for serving as our hosts. I am so happy and glad to see a KSA group finally getting off the ground in Des Moines. I had wanted to see that happen and to be a part of it and now I can't be a member of it!

The food and fellowship last evening were great. I had great table mates...Bros. Eldon Walton, Greg Anderson, John Clearman, Jr. Sharp, and Charlie Brinkerhoff. By the personalitities present at my table, you can see I had a good time. Bro. Greg Van Vark did an oustanding job as Sovereign Commander of KCCH. I know he was nervous about his recitation, but as usual he did an outstanding job. A great evening indeed. Masonry needs more events like this, especially in our Blue Lodges.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Bye My Friend

Yesterday the Masons of Iowa came together at the Des Moines Scottish Rite Temple to say good bye to our good friend, Bro. George Carr. Bro. George would have been happy to see so many good friends joined together enjoying one another's company. He would have been mingling throughout the room, greeting the assemblage with his infectious grin. Even though George may not have been physically present with us, his spirit was certainly there with us. It was a good party George, you would have been proud and happy.

George Carr was one of those individuals who certainly earned the title of being a member of the "Greatest Generation". He had served his country, his family, and his fraternity with distinction and untiring devotion. I have been a Scottish Rite Mason for almost ten years. It seemed like almost every event that I went to at the Scottish Rite over these past few years, I saw George. He always made it a point to meet and greet everyone that was there. He made you feel welcome and that you were special and he was glad to see you.

George's work through the Iowa Scottish Rite Foundation helped so many people further their educations and improve their lives. Gary Sissel made the comment yesterday that George was really the man behind the throne. Others may have been officially wearing the mantel of responsibility, but it was George who many often looked to for leadership and guidance.

At yesterdays' ceremony, George's family had to be impressed as the Double Eagle Chorus sang "The Rose", as Bro. Bob Speed played the wonderful organ, as the assemblage of brothers filed past George's picture to deposit the evergreen, and finally as the brethren circled the auditorium and sang "Auld Lang Syne" in George's honor. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man.

George, we are going to miss you. I will think of you every time I walk through those imposing bronze doors of the Des Moines Scottish Rite Temple. Your spirit will always be with those that knew you. You were an inspiration to all of us who knew you...your spirit will inspire us to work for the beliefs that you so earnestly toiled for.

Farewell my brother. Your work was well and faithfully done. Rest well until we too shall be joined together in the Grand Lodge Above.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Specialis Procer...Our First Degree

Last evening the members of Specialis Procer Lodge U.D. conferred our first degree on Bro. Kevin Hoffman. Generally one would think that the first degree conferred by a new lodge would be the Entered Apprentice, but we Gnemeth Lodge in West Des Moines allowed us to confer the Master Mason degree on Bro. Kevin.

Bro. Kevin is the real life brother of our Senior Warden, Bro. Kurt Hoffman...now these young men are not only real life brothers, but also Masonic brothers. Kurt had the honor of raising his brother to the sublime degree of a Master Mason...that is something that I'm sure is not common. Bro. Randy Simmons conferred the degree and Bro. Tim Bonney portrayed King Solomon in the second section. This was Tim's first time being K.S. and he did a great job. I know he had some jitters...I remember my first time!

Kevin will be moving to Florida today to go to college. I do hope that he seeks out a lodge in Florida to attend.

As I sat in the Senior Warden's chair last night, I had a lot of thoughts going through my head. One of the thoughts that I had was how this was another "first" for Specialis Procer. Some day somebody will read the minutes of the lodge and read about the first degree that we conferred and wonder what the evening was like. Another thought that I had was how cool and refreshing the air was that was coming through the open windows (at least for the first part of the evening). How many times do we go to a degree anymore and the windows are open with the breeze drifting through with the sounds of the outer world in the background. I thought about George Carr last evening. George would have been proud to have seen us raising a new brother to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in his beloved Scottish Rite Temple, a place he dearly loved. I also thought of the committment level to FreeMasonry that was exhibited in that room. The brothers that were there last evening live Masonry every single day. I also set there and thought about what Bro. Kurt has contributed in the short time that he has been a member of our gentle craft. This young man has contributed more in the past few months than a lot of our brothers do in their entire lifetime. It is refreshing to see a young man so committed and so understanding of what Freemasonry is really all about.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Masonic Committment

I had a couple things happen to me today that has made me think about Masonic committment...maybe even committment in general. This morning a good friend of mine called me with some frustrations. He was installed as a Grand Chapter officer of the Royal Arch Masons of Iowa on Friday afternoon. He is a past Grand Lodge Officer and this was his first Grand Chapter appointment.

He told me that he was disillusioned with the "whole thing" in Cedar Rapids. The individual who had asked him to be an officer did not even have the courtesy to introduce himself to this junior officer or for that matter have an officers meeting prior to the installation and introduce the officers to each other and to tell them what is expected of them during their upcoming year. This junior officer had to go up and introduce himself to the presiding officer. The junior officer told me he felt he was rudely treated. Is this merely a case of finding someone to fill the chair or are we seriously committed to be a Masonic leader. I also heard at Grand Chapter that we would not have representation from Iowa at the upcoming Triannium in Indianapolis at the end of August. Maybe this is true, maybe not. I do know that one past grand high priest is going, but shouldn't some of our current officers be also attenidng.

Is it merely just getting that jewel hanging around our neck and that title behind our name? No, that should be the least of any Masonic leaders' concerns. Leading the organizing is what should be first and foremost. Where are our leaders? Anywhere??

This afternoon I drove golf carts at the State Fair. I usually try and drive a couple shifts. The proceeds go to the Transportation Fund and to the Shrine Hospitals. Hopefully my efforts this afternoon will have netted at least a $100 for those causes. While I was taking a break one of the fellow drivers and I was talking about those nobles who have not paid their dues (approximately 100) who will be suspended later on this year if they have not paid up. Jerry made the comment that he thought people thought they needed to be "entertained". We do a fairly good job selling and getting them in and then they are dropped for NPD because they have not been "entertained".

I don't know if "entertained" is the right word or not. I think it is simply a lack of committment. When you take those obligations on the Holy Bible in your Blue Lodge, so many people think they are just words. They need to go back and revisit those obligations...they are obligations, not mere words. It is the same in any of the other organizations as well. If you can't make the committment, then do the honorable thing, pay your dues and leave in good standing. At least that way you have left in good terms with the fraternity. People can't even do that. That don't even think of the committment to their fellow brothers.

Lack of committment is not merely just in Masonic bodies. Wherever we look we see it...home, family, job, church, spouse. I read Bro. Jay's blog tonight and he talks about "microwave mentality"...I am begining to think that maybe society as a whole has been in the micrwowave too long. It is zapped. It is time that we get back to honor and integrity...a man's word is his word.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mrs. Huigen

I saw in the Sunday paper where my first grade teacher, Mrs. Huigen passed away last Friday. It brought back a lot of memories of my first year of "all day" school with her clear back in 1967. It is hard to believe that was 41 years ago...am I getting old or what!

Mrs. Huigen was a great human being as well as being a great teacher. She was always so kind and treated all of her students in the same loving and caring manner. She was never strict and stern, but always guided her students with love, patience, and a caring attitude. She was almost like a second mom to her students.

One instance that I really remember from my year in her classroom was one time that she let me pretend that I was Santa Claus and I got to sit in this old captains' chair and hear what the other kids wanted for Christmas. Why this sticks in my mind after 41 years I don't know, but it does.

I last saw Mrs. Huigen a week ago at Park Center here in Newton. She was sitting in the lounge watching TV. I had went to see another friend there and I saw her in the lounge as I came and went. I wished I had stopped for just a few minutes to chat. I did so on occassion. I guess it reinforces that we should always take time for those special people in our lives, irregardless of how busy we might be with our comings and goings. Mrs. Huigen was 102. What a wonderful life she lead. She was a kind and gracious lady. She left her mark in this world. God Bless You Mrs. Huigen.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hope Lodge

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Cornerstone laying ceremony for the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge facility in Iowa City...WOW, What a neat place! I wore my commandery uniform down to the ceremony, so I could walk with the Sir Knights and form the arch of steel for the Grand Master. We had 29 Sir Knights in attendance, so it was a very nice showing. It has been a long time since I saw that many knights at a cornerstone ceremony.

The facility is located directly west of Hawkeye-Carver Arena. It is directly adjacent to a wooded area and is lower than the parking lot of Hawkeye-Carver, so it is somewhat secluded. The building is built to resemble a Frank Lloyd Wright "prairie style" architecture. The exterior is brick, stone, and wood. The builidng is three stories high, one story under grade level and the other two above.

After the ceremony, we were given a tour of the facility. There is going to be 29 suites in the building. No televisions in indivdual rooms, that is to force the patients out into group settings where they can mingle with other patients and their families. I was impressed with the woodwork in the building, it is all walnut. The fireplaces in the lounge areas are all built out of stone. One of the big lounge areas will be dedicated to the Masons of Iowa. It is a very spacious room with a big stone fireplace and a walkout to a deck area that looks into the trees. It is all so peaceful and serene.

The Iowa City facility has hired their first employee, a manager who had been on the job less than a week. They already have a waiting list of patients and are expecting to start receiving patients in late September.

I know Grand Master Mosier took some flack about his resolution for $250,000 to support Hope Lodge. Some in my own lodge were against it. I personally was for it. The Masons of Iowa need to get behind a big project that will help others out. That is part of what being a Mason is all about...helping your fellow human beings. Hope Lodge will be a wonderful facility and it will help many, many people during some difficult times in their lives.

The cornerstone by the front door impressed me. It had the square and compass engraved on it and then directly underneath said "Faith, Hope, and Charity". How neat. Faith by all who had the dream to build it; hope to sustain those will use it; and charity towards those who will use it and their families.