I received a letter from a Brother who was spiritually destitute and filled with guilt. I have contacted him and received his permission to use his letter in part and my response. His letter read in part, “Brother Cliff thank you for this weekend. I will never be able to express in words what it meant to me. There is something I feel compelled to discuss with you as you seem studied in the spiritual side of Masonry. I feel guilty about this weekend. When we were in lodge I had what I would call a spiritual experience. Never having one before, I was uncertain how to describe it, but it could be called filled with the Holy Spirit or maybe Pentecostal in the way that I felt.
I am a very religious man. I go to church every Sunday, and Wednesday Bible study. Yet, there I was in lodge having my first religious experience. I could feel the Holy Spirit move through me. So how can I say that Masonry is not a religion for me, if in lodge I am having a religious experience?”
My response to him, because I believe the topic should be addressed.
My Dearest Brother (Name Withheld),
Thank for the kind words about our lodge. Without bragging I will say that every man in that room worked hard to create that lodge and they deserve your kind words more than I, so I will pass them along as appropriate.
As to the other matter, if I may, I am going to ramble a bit and maybe even rant (as I am known to do).
When my little boy was born I was terrified. I had been married for more than a decade, I had a house filled with nice breakable things, I didn’t want for any toy that I spied and simply purchased as will with no college educations or school clothes to think of. I was young in appearance, but old in spirit and very, very set in my ways.
Having been present for his birth, the nurse handed my little boy to me just after I had cut his umbilical cord and they had wiped his mouth and nose free of debris. I looked down at him, still very afraid, and he opened his little eyes just for second, if that long, before closing them to let out a scream that would become very familiar in the next few weeks, it being the only words he knew at the time.
But in that “instant of time, without change of place or situation” I viewed creation, I viewed the power of God to work through his people to create, I saw good and perfect, I saw the product of love, I saw raw and infinite potential…I fell so deeply in love that for the first time in my life I understood just fractionally what it meant to know that I was a child of God and to be loved that way by our Creator changed me forever.
I had a religious, spiritual, and life changing experience.
A couple of years later, I would be asked to leave the church that I had returned to because of the birth of my son, because I was a Freemason. Devastated, angry, and hurt; I left.
I was faced with some incredible choices at that point. There I stood a Heretic, outside of the graces of the church, administratively stricken from the Book of Life by God’s administrators on earth to find my way “out of this darkness, this wilderness of doubt and dismay.”
It was God’s voice and presence that would guide me, more accurately, shout at me so that I could hear him through and above my own cries of anger at him for leaving me, abandoning me in my darkest hour.
But the Lord, being kind and pure, shouted at me with a whisper, one so powerful I found myself unable to refuse him.
………..and it happened in Lodge!
Having not been a “good Mason,” I thought to myself as a gazed down upon the ring I wore on my finger that had caused all the problems, I should at least attend lodge if I am going to hell for it.
That is when he whispered.
I began to take it all in, God’s handy work. Men. Men born the same way as my little boy, precious and true, a perfect gift from a perfect God. He would set a path in front of all of them, all varied, none of them the same, but those paths would lead to God, because you could not escape an omnipotent and omnipresence God who loved you like a child. You could, as some children do, choose not to have a relationship with your parents, but the love is too strong and too wonderful to die. You could shut a door and draw the shutters and pretend the light did not exist, but you are fooling only yourself.
God was everywhere, all the time, and more importantly, his love, as evidenced in his Creation, was as constant as the material Universe that I lived, loved, and breathed in. Life and creation were worship, loving my family was worship, loving myself was worship, doing good was worship, waking everyday and going to bed at night were worship, faith was an action and God a constant; and Brother, Masonry for you can be a form a worship, without ever being your “religion.”
Just because we shut the door of a lodge room and declare it tyled, does not mean that God has left the room. He shines as a light in your life and he should. He will be with you at dinner, with you at church, with you outdoors and in, and he will be with you in lodge.
It is my guess, that if God’s love is as powerful and extraordinary as I fractionally comprehended it to be through the eyes of my little boy staring up at me, then maybe, just maybe God leans down and kisses us upon the forehead or lovingly ruffles our hair just a bit as I am compelled to do with my son.
Maybe, just maybe, you felt God’s touch that day in lodge in because God loves you with all his heart, whenever and wherever you are, and in that instant of time, he simply reached out to touch one of his little ones.
Be well Brother, feel no guilt. God loves you and so do I.