Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A New York great has passed

I just read that M.'.W.'. Calvin Bond, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York has passed. I had the honor and pleasure of knowing MWBro. Bond and his presence will be greatly missed in The Grand Lodge of New York and the Craft.

More complete information may be read at Bro. Richard Powell's site, "Ars Masonica."


"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marking out the ground for the foundation

(The working tool pictured left -a Skirret - was handmade by Bro. Bearss from Palmer Lodge #372, Fort Erie, Ontario)

One of the working tools of the Third Degree in the Emulation ritual is the skirret. For those of us used to the Preston-Webb tradition, this tool is not one which we are used to seeing, but it is one which is important for Master Masons to be familiar with and employ.

As you can see by the photo, it is like a spool of thread with a handle. The loose end of the thread has a loop which will catch the center pin. The skirret's thread is allowed to unwind and held taut. Once the length is reached, a piece of chalk may be used to mark the foundation, the skirret's thread ensuring a straight line. The skirret's thread, when allowed to unwind, becomes longer than any practicable ruler or straightedge but it is just as true. It is similar to a modern-day chalkline.

The Emulation ritual explains that the skirret "is an implement which acts on a centre pin, whence a line is drawn to mark out ground for the foundation of the intended structure." This is the operative use of the skirret, and the ritual goes on to explain that, for the Speculative Mason, "the Skirret points out that straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our pursuit in the Volume of Sacred Law." We are instructed that the skirret is a tool specifically to be used in preparation for laying a foundation.

Bro. James Marple in his article "The Mason's Skirret" points out that what makes the skirret so special is "that it is used before the foundation of a building is laid; and, therefore, the skirret is generally used before the other working tools. A skirret allows a person to see the precise location for the foundation. Consequently, the surrounding ground can easily be designated for other purposes. Initial use of the skirret enables changes to be made to the mark rather than, later, to change a finished foundation of stone or concrete."

When we consider these qualities in relation to the Volume of Sacred Law, the skirret is the tool which helps us to understand how the Volume of Sacred Law applies to our own lives. We are instructed that the Volume of the Sacred Law is "the rule and guide of our faith." How do we apply this to our daily life? Through the straight and undeviating line as set by use of the skirret. It allows us to map out the foundation of our character and allow us to see the footprint upon which our Temple will be built.

For my American Brothers, take a moment and think about how important this missing, yet vital working tool is to a Master Mason - both in the construction of your own inner Temple and in the building of our new Brothers' Temples as well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spreading the cement of Brotherly love...

On Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Brethren of Enchanted Mountains Lodge #252 (including yours truly) traveled to East Aurora, New York for the 17th Annual gathering of Blazing Star Lodge #694, F&AM. This gathering also celebrates the reception of Brethren from Palmer Lodge #372 from Fort Erie, Ontario. I had been asked to come to the meeting to receive a hand made skerritt from Bro. Bearss, the Senior Warden of Palmer Lodge.

Some time ago, several of the Brothers of my Lodge and I journeyed to Palmer Lodge for their annual chili cook-off. It was a great time and you could not ask to meet a better, more welcoming group of Brothers. During that time we had occasion to tour their Lodge and talk with them about the similarities and differences between New York Masonry and Canadian Masonry. One of the big things that stood out to me was their use of several working tools that New York does not utilize - specifically the pencil, the chisel and the skerritt. I was educated by Bro. Girdlestone, the Lodge Secretary (pictured all the way to the right in the above photo) as to their uses. This followed me back to New York.

As I began to hold classes for our new Brethren, these other working tools began to be a point of discussion. So, I gathered a kit of working tools to bring to these discussions. I had everything - even a chisel and a setting maul - but the skerritt was tough to obtain. I contacted Brother Jeff and he said he would see what he could do. Several months later, he contacted me and told me that Bro. Bearss had handcrafted one for me and they wanted me to come to Fort Erie to get it. Problem was, I don't have a passport. So, what to do?

A few months pass and Bro. Jeff asks if I can come to the annual gathering in East Aurora. I contact the Brother hosting the event and next thing you know - seven Brothers and I are in East Aurora. Again - we experienced a warm reception from the Brothers from Blazing Star and Palmer Lodge. A wonderful time was had by all and I was presented with an absolutely beautiful piece of work by Bro. Bearss (he is third from right and I am fourth from right). It was tough to head home, but we can look forward to next year's gathering. A huge thank you to Blazing Star Lodge and Palmer Lodge for allowing us to come to their annual event.

So - what's a skerritt? Stay tuned...a little something about the skerritt in my next post.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The baton is passed

This past Tuesday I had the honor of installing the officers of Enchanted Mountains Lodge #252, F&AM. This duty has been performed for many years by RWBro. Orin Parker, DDGM. Bro. Parker asked me to take over the job and I was both honored and concerned. Bro. Parker has been a mentor to me over the last 20 years of my Masonic career and I really wanted to honor him by doing a good job.

WBro. Tim Nolan was installed for his first time in the East. We had a good turnout and the ceremony went off without a hitch. Usually we have a tighter dress code, but this night was pretty hot in the Lodge - one of the reasons we don't meet in July and August. We installed a full line many of whom were not Past Masters.

I know that I have left the Lodge in good hands and I look forward eagerly to see what great things lie ahead for our Lodge.