Thursday, May 14, 2009

Planning Ahead

Like many an active new Brother officer, I find myself hurtling towards the East. It's a prospect that excites and intimidates me simultaneously.

After serving as Senior Steward pro tem for a couple of meetings last year, the first chair I was officially installed in was Junior Deacon - at the time I was a little bit freaked out by the knowledge that this put me one step away from being Senior Deacon (and thus the Middle Chamber lecture) which was a little more involved than I had anticipated getting so soon after being raised.

Over the ensuing months a few things have happened:
  • I've gotten to know the Brothers at my mother lodge better
  • I've gotten a better sense of which things have "always been done that way" and which things are done that way just because people got out of the habit during leaner times
  • I learned the Middle Chamber lecture before I actually needed to know it, demonstrating to myself that learning ritual is not a big deal IF you give yourself time and work at it slowly but surely.
  • I've visited other lodges, and had a chance to compare and contrast with my mother Lodge.
This last has probably been the most helpful to me in terms of developing a more holistic view of the Craft, and has given me a lot of ideas that I would love to see implemented at my own lodge. Even though I am still three years away from taking the Master's chair (if the current line of officers continues to move up) I often find myself thinking in terms of who I may be able to call on to help with a particular initiative when I'm Master, or whether there are any steps I can take now to lay the groundwork for something new/different during my year in the East.

Of course, the first major planning step was to decide that yes, I do actively want to be Master of my lodge for a year. That sounds obvious, but it's a pretty crucial decision that I think often gets short shrift from Brothers who suddenly find themselves in one of the Wardens' chairs with some amount of pressure to keep going because many lodges still have trouble finding officers. It's not for everyone, and if a Brother becomes Master against their better judgement out of a sense of duty or obligation, it's potentially destructive to the whole lodge.

Once you've made the decision to go for it, though, you should start planning, even if you're still Junior Steward (for one thing, holes in lines open up and you may find yourself bumped up a seat or two before you know it); think about what you want to accomplish during your year in the East, think about what skills you need to develop to effectively run a meeting, settle disputes, and set the Craft to labor. When the gavel is handed to me, I don't want to find myself standing there like a deer in the headlights, and turning to the Past Masters to answer questions about every little procedural detail, or about how something is "supposed" to be done (whether by custom or by obscure detail not found in the cipher book). So, I'm watching meetings intently and asking the Brothers with an eye for ritual lots of clarifying questions, and I'm trying to build a mental index of talents and interests of the Brethren at my lodge.

I figure if I try to plan everything out now, I might have about half of my act together when the time comes.

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