Thursday, February 26, 2009

No Second Chances

He had known about the assignment for weeks. He didn’t want to do it, he had little interest in old English literature and nothing seemed more boring or pointless. Wrestling practice, Sophia Calloway, and several other things in life had taken his attention and upon close inspection by him, seemed more worthy of his time.

So, in the end, on Wednesday he showed up with no paper in hand, and a really great story. Mr. Philips, the 22 year old recent college graduate and newly crowned high school teacher, had learned how important self esteem is to his students and he provided an out. He would hate to see this young man fail and damage his ego…er um self esteem. So, more time is given with little thought to those that actually completed the assignment on time.

We had Dr. Casey Blood speaking in lodge the other day. Dr. Blood is a quantum physicist and Sufi mystic. He was relating an excellent presentation of the mathematical evidence for the existence of a soul and explaining his belief systems for what might happen to such a thing in this cycle of life.

The question of a “hell” came up as well as reincarnation and Dr. Blood’s response has caused me to contemplate much. He said, stating it as his opinion, “I think you get one shot.” He followed up with the belief that if your soul fails to progress it simply ceases to exist. Can you imagine…one shot or you simply cease.

I wondered how much different our lives would be if all things were approached with such speculation. How often would we choose to remain idle or ignorant if failure meant that we would simply no longer be?

There is a lesson in Masonry that goes hand in hand with such a philosophy. Work. Masonry is work, progression is work, self improvement is work, raising a Brother is work, morality is work. Labor is revered in the Craft, so much so that our allegories are inundated with it. We labor in the quarry of life and spirituality with our respective “working tools.” Masonry is work.

I thought of the times in my life that my actions or words were based on the very fact that I believed I could take it back or repair it later. The consequences, weighed even briefly, seemed tolerable and the “right” or moral choice was not picked.

I mused on the times that I had neglected something important in my life with the belief that I will choose the other “next time.” What if there were never a “next time.” How many times had my beautiful little boy run up to his daddy for a little playtime and I refused because I was tired or busy? What if there was never a “next time.”

What would my priorities be if there was never a next time?

There are teachings in Masonry about the ideal man, three times he is given a chance to fail, and three times, even unto death he chooses morality, courage, and secrecy.

I decided that day that I would try a little experiment. I decided that I would stop living my life like I might get a second chance. I would stop believing that finality was negotiable. I would live like every chip from my rough ashlar would count like the first chip and that it might be the last.

The relevance of Masonry? In a world where self esteem is more important than the truth, in a world where the third chance is the norm, in a world where consequences are subjective and up for compromise, in a world where justice depends on the quality of the attorney……I will choose to live my life like a Mason…I will choose to do the right thing first, for its own sake. I will fail and I will stand ready for the consequences and I will continue to work, without compromise, for that perfect stone.