by: Bro. Mark Lea, PM.
We have probably said it, or heard this line, “You’ll get out of it what you put into it”. Maybe, we have even been asked the meaning behind it. I’ve always said that, like everything else, it can mean many things. After several years of thinking it over I think I’ve finally found my answer. What do we, as members, give The Craft? We each do different things: We study, participate in degrees, deliver lectures, teach, serve as guest speakers, do clean ups, run fundraisers, and some donate. The list goes on. At the root of all these thing, I believe the answer is time. All of these actions we commit to within the Craft takes time.
Time is the absolute one thing we will never get back. Ever. For someone to take the time to do their part is an investment in the Fraternity. Because not everyone can excel at ritual work. Some brothers may have struggled with their catechism and are not able to teach it. Perhaps it is easier for these brothers to take care of cleaning up the lodge building. Maybe they serve in a better capacity by being members of committees. Or they take charge of fund raising. I have always believed that every brother can find a way so best serve their lodge in a way that is best suited to their abilities. But for now I am talking about myself mostly and my experiences. To be able to watch a brother do whatever function that he performs with confidence and sureness is usually a sign that he has researched and studied and practiced his part. Watching that happen tells me that he has bothered to put into it. This is always a good thing. Even after he is done with whatever it is that he does, he will become a teacher and will pass on what he knows to a brother who is also studying and doing research and asking questions. In this fashion the teacher is still putting into it. The student is also, now, putting into it by learning.
As a student, I have had the privilege to learn from brothers who lived by our teachings. Sadly, I have had two different teachers called from labor. These men put into the Craft for decades and taught many brothers over the years. It has always been my hope that they felt they had gotten out of it what they put into it for so long.
But what is there to get out of it? I can’t speak for anyone else, but what I get out of it is when I am able to sit quietly on the side and watch with pride as one of my students delivers a lecture or confers a degree after many evenings of practice and studying. I get out of it when I examine a student of one of my students. This makes me feel like my time was well spent with this student.
Again, time comes back up. Like I said earlier, I’ll never get the time back. It helps to know that it is not wasted. Every time I place the hat on my head and take the gavel in my hand, my eyes pass along the tops of the walls where the pictures of the Past Masters are hung. I look out among the brethren and remember the faces that are no longer present. I hope that I made my teachers feel like they had gotten out if it what they had long ago invested in the Craft. I hope my teachers had made their teachers also feel like they had invested their time wisely as well.
I look forward to the day when my students can sit on the side and watch their students place the hat on their heads and watch their investments pay off.
Maybe they will feel that they have spent their time wisely. Perhaps they may even find their own ways of mentoring that is not just mine, but a piece of mine and a piece of another brother or several brothers who also serve as mentors. Perhaps one day my name will be remembered only as a picture on the wall of past masters. Maybe the methods that work best for me will either evolve or fall along the wayside as time marches on. Or perhaps my methods of teaching may continue. Perhaps the obscure lectures I bothered to find and commit to memory and teach my students to memorize as well may become the standard during the conferral of degrees. None of us can ever really know. All I can say about the matter is this. My name is Mark and I will continue to do my part and put in as much as I can.
Bro. Mark Lea, PM. is a Veteran of the US Naval Reserve. Thirteen year member of the Craft and has served as Master of Leesville Lodge #240 F&AM, Leesville, LA, in 2006, 2010 and 2011. Spends as much of his time as possible either learning more about masonry or sharing his experiences with newer members and visiting other lodges. Bro. Lea has always held the dream of being a writer to someday share what he has learned. He has recently began writing reviews for cigar review group composed of Brothers of the Craft who enjoy cigars and talking about them.