As a Secretary of one Lodge, and a member of several others, I get notices of meetings from quite a few Masonic Lodges. And the most disheartened thing I read is when an urgent e-mail comes through and says something like “The candidate can’t come tonight so the meeting is cancelled.” I have a question.
Why is the meeting cancelled?
At every emergent communication where degree work is the only thing on the Order of Business, there’s always more to a meeting than that. Every meeting has a report on ill and distressed brethren. Since the assembled members now have time on their hands where they would have done degree work, why not use that time to put the Lodge at refreshment, have each member pick up his cell phone (since almost everyone has one), call a senior or sick brother, then have the Lodge called on a half hour later and everyone report their findings?
Every meeting has a portion where members can offer something for the Good of Freemasonry. That’s a huge open chasm that can be filled with almost anything. It can be used for an educational presentation. It can be used for a discussion—formal or otherwise—about almost anything to do with Freemasonry, including Lodge affairs. Certainly “The Good of Freemasonry” can be, and should be, more than the Junior Warden standing up and inviting people to have a sandwich, or the Worshipful Master to thank people for showing up (or apologising for a low turnout). Members, especially new ones, lament there’s so much to learn about our Craft. Why take away an evening’s opportunity when they can do just that?
Freemasons in parts of Canada should be familiar with the Address to the Brethren where we’re reminded one of the objects of meeting in a Lodge is “social intercourse.” If a planned degree can not take place, why can’t the brethren use the time instead for the all-important fellowship that the fraternity prides itself on? If the brethren of the Lodge don’t want to hang out together, swap stories, and toast our absent brethren (or whoever else), it may mean a bond has not developed amongst the members and there’s a serious social dynamic problem.
It’s perfectly understandable if a snowstorm or power failure results in a meeting cancellation. Or a lack of a quorum of seven for whatever reason. But cancelling a meeting merely because a degree has to be put off? Remember your 24-inch gauge and its lesson of using time wisely. The time which would have been spent in degree work can be beneficially employed in so many other ways. Packing up the gauge with the rest of the tools and going home shouldn’t be one of them.