Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Dilemma

Our Junior Deacon wasn't at rehearsal last night, and I offered to understudy the position for the evening, since the JD is a little more involved in things than my own position of Senior Steward... and it seemed like I might as well get a head start on learning the JD ritual, figuring that by the time I have to step up next fall I'd be in great shape.

Little did I know, the JD (Who was raised only a few months before me) has had to drop out of the line for a few months. I'm not on the hook for this week's meeting, but it's clear that the chair is open if I want to go for it.

Out of context, the office of JD is not too intimidating... but it's the knowledge of the Senior Deacon's duties right around the corner that gives me serious pause. In an ideal Lodge with a full and stable line, it would take a Brother at least three years to reach the office of Senior Deacon. That's three years of watching the SD's floor work and ritual, learning a lot of it by brute repetition. Maybe it's even enough time for some of the Middle Chamber lecture to sink in.

By contrast, I've only been a Master Mason for 5 months and I'm already looking at the third chair in the line. It doesn't feel right in terms of that learning-by-osmosis factor, nor in terms of integration with the lodge; I mean, I don't even know where all of the light switches are yet! I feel like I've got more basic things to learn before I take such a prominent place in the initiation of new candidates.

The question that is troubling me is finding the balance between what's best for me and what's best for the lodge. Better for the Lodge's sense of stability to have an empty Junior Deacon's chair, or an empty Junior Steward's chair (assuming the Junior Steward wanted to move up as well)? Better for me to sit in relative obscurity for another year, giving me more bandwidth to deal with my duties as an Ambassador and my efforts on the lodge web site, not to mention the ongoing saga of the renovation of my house?

Our installation of officers doesn't happen until next month, so I've got some time to think about it.


Tom Accuosti said...

Dude - same thing happened to me. I was raised in 2001, and 6 weeks later I'm installed as the SS (the guy slated to be SS dropped out of the line).

The next year I'm JD. Then partway into the year, the SD takes the rest of the year off. I fill in for him for a while, and when it's apparent that he's not coming back, they ask me to finish out the year.

The next year, they tell me "Well, since you've already spent half the year as a SD, it's pointless to have you repeat it - let's move you up to JW."

Unfortunately, your situation happens more and more often in lodges now. But if you have a bunch of good guys in your lodge, you'll find that you can handle it.

Tim said...

It is a sign of the times, Bro. I have begun to think of it in this way. We can fight and scrap our way in the hopes of a revival or we can let it all just fade away. It does appear the Freemasonry is making a comeback and I'm truly not sure if that is good or bad. But I am eternally optimistic. So, past Masters fill and refill the chairs. People are put into the JD or SW seat light years ahead of time. But I have some hope.
This year,our lodge, for the first time in the district in many years, the seats are filled by those making their way through beginning with junior positions through to the top. That is a healthy sign.
So, I will say, roll with it Bro. Let it roll.
Your friendly Artisan Lodge Chaplain...

A.C. said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Brothers. My lingering doubts at the moment are mostly about the length of my own cable-tow; just this week I have had to beg off of two official visits at other lodges in my district, so I can continue our push to get moved into our house. The level of commitment only grows the closer one gets to the east, and right now it's hard to remember having enough time to take the occasional day off to not do anything.