This is in fact my farewell message on this website as the Worshipful Master of Grand Rapids Lodge No 34. It has been an incredible journey from knowing nothing more than my admiration for the Craft, to being called to lead it. The pressure that many Masters put on themselves can be immense. I would probably group myself into that category, but in all honesty it wasn’t as bad as it could or should have been. I had a lot of help and guidance from a lot of people and it made my mistakes palatable and my success appreciated. In short, it made it all worth it.
This time of year gives many people of many faiths a time to pause and take note of our time here on earth. Just as the days get short, many of us who have arrived at the age of adulthood have begun to compare ourselves to the falling leaves that enrich the soil. We contemplate how our days may also be getting shorter. Even with the many celebrations like Christmas, Hanukkah, or Eid, the time of the winter solstice can be melancholy. Our Masonic lectures don’t deny these ideas or advise against them. In fact, I would argue that they are encouraged. However, these ideas are encouraged for an altogether unique purpose. The point is not to get down on one’s self or to get depressed. It is, instead, to contemplate the immortality of the soul which is bound in our mortal body. It is precisely the winter that makes us celebrate the spring. It is true that there will come a spring that we won’t see. We know that this will come to pass, but we work hard in the time we have for the sake of those who will be here to see that spring’s bright colors and smell it’s sweet fragrance.
My time as Master is as done as the time of the workman who has forever laid down his tools. I hope that I have contributed something to the common stock of goodness within our great Lodge, and if I am truly fortunate, then in the Craft at large as well. I hope that as we see the abundance of trees which gleam with light this December, that we are reminded of the great love that the Great Architect of the Universe has shared with us, and that we have cause to ponder the light that our own immortal souls display to those who give pause to gaze upon it.
May the blessings of our Almighty Father be always upon you, and all you families.
We, as Masons, are encouraged in our ritual work to give thanks to the Great and Beneficent Author of our Existence for the many blessings and comforts we enjoy. In short, we’re told to “Give thanks to God for our comfort.” There are many opportunities to remind ourselves of our need to be thankful in the month of November. Some will do this with family over a meal, some will do it when they look at the changing colors of the leaves in the trees. Yet others will do it, as they have every morning as part of their normal routine. My sincere hope is that this month everyone has a reason to reflect on their ability to be thankful. As a mental health therapist by trade, I run into a fair amount of individuals who believe that their “luck has run out.” I sometimes respond with a story of group of individuals on the other side of the earth who are born, live and die on a landfill.I tell them that if these individuals can smile, or raise a family under these circumstances then there must be some level of joy in their lives. If they can do it, surely we can too. In truth, if anyone can read, then they are among the world’s most fortunate, if they can have access to my humble post, and read it as well, then they are among the world’s elite. There is plenty of room to make society more equitable, but that doesn’t prevent us from finding our own reasons to give thanks. I am particularly grateful for my Brothers in the Craft.
I’ve noticed that a number of my previous posts have focused on the month, season, or weather. I’m posted to talk about the Masonic lectures’ reflections of leaves that fall to enrich our mother earth. However, I’ll resist that urge and write about the excitement and fast pace of the weeks and month to come. In the Lodge Calendar, October represents a pivotal month. It is the last month of effective leadership of the Worshipful Master. In November we’ll have a Worshipful Master Elect, and in December the newly elected officers will take possession of their new chairs. October becomes a time to finish old projects, and to start new ones that will help the next Master in his tenure.
I’m excited to have the chance to make two new Master Masons this year, and to continue to add to the stock of candidates that wish to be made Masons in the following months. Our new Lodge Logo project is all but complete, and we’re also looking forward to the holiday celebrations in November and December. We’re sometimes reminded of endings during this time of year, but after more than 163 years of service in Grand Rapids, I know that this is but one more month in an incredible journey.
I wish you all great joy and welcome each and every one of you to be a part of who and what we are.
Omar H. Flores
Worshipful Master, Grand Rapids Lodge No. 34
Much is made of the many holidays we enjoy as citizens and residents of this country. We tease each other about “Hallmark Holidays,” we have our own religious observances, and we have our National Holidays. This Labor Day we celebrate those individuals who have contributed to the common stock of knowledge.
We live in partisan times. Without grounding ourselves, it is tempting to define holidays like Labor Day in terms of “us and them.” However, one of the gifts that Freemasonry offers us is the opportunity to pause, reflect, and reframe our ideas in pursuit of the common good. There have been many individuals in American History who have made contributions which we pause to recognize today. Industrialists like Henry Ford (Palestine Lodge, No. 357), and Andrew Mellon, inventors like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, labor leaders such as Walter P. Reuther (Highland Park Lodge, No. 468), and even Terence Powderly (of Homestead Strike fame) were all Brothers among us.
The Masonic lectures teach us that we are all to be industrious so as not to be seen as a drones in the hive of nature. We are also taught that dependency is one of the strongest bonds of society which enables us to better fulfill our duties of reciprocal love and friendship. In truth, no Master Mason would order a Fellowcraft in the quarry to make his own tools. The Master Mason would order an apprentice to make the tools which would better enable a Fellowcraft to fit a stone for the builders use. In short, we are all linked together. We celebrate this in our Lodges. While Labor Day remains many things to many people, it is a reminder that we can share our respect for each other outside of the Lodge.
Today and everyday I encourage every brother and friend to celebrate the ties that bind us together.
You often find the initials “F&AM” associated with the lodges in the Michigan Jurisdiction. The majority of individuals know that it stands for “Free and Accepted Masons.” However, this summer it would be easy to think that the “F” stands for Fellowship! It’s been a great summer for fraternal gatherings. Even the threat of rain during the first scheduled outing in June couldn’t put a damper on the rescheduled Lodge Golf Outing on August 3rd. Our handshakes were firmer than our grips, but everyone reported a good time nonetheless. Congratulations to Worshipful Brother Henry Van Dam and his crew for their 1000’th consecutive win in our four man scramble format. Additionally, we thank Brother Craig Maison for making the hours-long drive through pea-soup fog to be with us. Also, our special thanks to Brother Tom Brinker, and Worshipful Brother Tom Cardwell for all of their hard work coordinating our outing with the wonderful staff at Maple Hill Golf Course. We’re already looking forward to next year’s outing and we hope you’ll be with us!
A wonderful Guys Night Out Event took place this evening. A great time was had well before the last strikeout sealed the win for the Whitecaps, or the after-game fireworks were done. Great food among great friends made for a perfect evening. More photos are available on our facebook page, but I’ll post our group photo here. A special thanks goes out to everyone who helped to make this night possible.
Chapel Hill Cemetery on 28th Street and Paterson in Grand Rapids hosted a Memorial Day service on Monday 5/27/2013. The cemetery is divided into many sections. A large portion of the cemetery is set aside for the burial of veterans. In the Northeast corner of the property is a section that is dedicated to Masons. The area is beautifully adorned with the three principal chairs of a Lodge room, as well as a wonderful alter, complete with a square and compasses, as well as a volume of sacred law resting on top.
Grand Rapids Lodge No. 34 along with the Knights of De Molai Commandry No. 5 took part in a special memorial service to honor our Brothers who have forever dropped the working tools of life, and now rest with the Grand Architect of the Universe in that Celestial Lodge above. The Knights provided a color guard and honor guard, and Worshipful Brother Mike Clark delivered a rendition of the Masonic Memorial Service that was given for many of the Brothers who are there interred.
We are grateful to have had the opportunity to pay this fitting tribute. We are reminded of the lesson of the acacia which was planted at the head of the grave of our Grand Master Hiram Abif, which teaches us about the immortal nature of the soul which shall never, no, never die.
The Masonic year is divided in a most peculiar way. May hardly seems like a half way point, but when one considers that most Lodges “go dark” or suspend meetings during two months of the year, then we begin to talk about new concepts of keeping time. Grand Rapids Lodge goes “dark” in July and August, thus the 5th month, May, is our half-way point. We’ve done a lot of great work. We have made 6 new men into Masons. We have raised three new men into Master Masons in Grand Rapids Lodge. We have participated in Scholarship Programs, and we have also made time to have some fun. We also look forward to a packed schedule in the second half of 2013. We have our golf outing, a trip to see the White Caps, and our Lodge picnic to look forward to. We’re plesed to be an active Lodge that offers much in the way of opportunities for charity, ritual work, and fun.
Everyone who reads this is encouraged to click on the tab above named “trestleboard.” This is our Lodge calendar. It will let you know about upcoming events, and it will also provide information on events that are open to Brothers, guests, or both. We hope to see everyone very soon indeed.
With that, I’ll leave you with a welcomed prayer. “May the road rise to meet your feet, may the wind be always at your back. And may God continue to hold you in the palm of his hand. Amen, So mote it be.
The days are in fact getting longer. It’s hard to tell from the snow, windchill factors, and the clouds overhead . . . but I promise, the discovery of new life is inevitable. Flowers will once again line our paths, and we will, once again, be free to rejoice in the Earth’s abundance. From a Masonic point of view, there has been a “shedding of light” in our tiled lodges as well. Grand Rapids Lodge has conferred all three degrees as of the end of March. Furthermore, we have written on our Trestleboard the audacious plan of conferring the three degrees again before our lodge retires for the summer months of July and August. We are most excited about the demand for degrees by qualified candidates. We’re equally excited to relate the history of our fraternity, and of our Lodge to give context to the work that happens beyond the degrees. The rituals have been performed by an inspiring mix of younger and older brothers which suggests a high standard of excellence for another generation and beyond. As the Master of the Lodge, this schedule has proven to be a great deal to ask of the brothers and their families. The call, I’m happy to report, has been answered. Our good works continue, and it is our wish that the Grand Rapids Community and beyond is all the better for it.
I hope your level of excitement rises with the outside temperatures, and that that flowered path brings you home to Grand Rapids Lodge No. 34 soon.
Greetings to you Brothers and Guests of our Web Page!
I am happy to report that the month that heralds the coming of Spring is upon us. Mother nature will be industrious to provide us with bountiful colors and fruits as the sun stays longer, and the cold surrenders his grip. In Grand Rapids Lodge, we too, will be industrious this month. I urge all of our visitors to pay attention to the Trestleboard for coming events. There is something scheduled for each Wednesday of the month. Each event, seemingly more important than the one before it. We will be voting for our district liaisons to the Grand Lodge of Michigan, Holding our regular business meeting, hearing about Masonry in the enlightenment during our education session, and Raising new Master Masons with the newly minted “Hiram Club.”
For all our brothers contemplating a return to Lodge after any absence. The events of this month beckon you. We aim to enjoy our work, as much as we dedicate ourselves to it. All our Brothers are welcome to help us in these noble endeavors.
I pray that the Great Architect of the Universe keep you all safe until we next meet.