The other day I was in New York for a short, hectic trip, and I had schedued time to see the Grand Lodge on 23rd St. as well as meeting with a brother I only knew from the discussion boards. It proved a few intense hours. (Oh, and I should mention that we stayed at Roosevelt Hotel, named after Teddy, the freemason.)
Grand Lodge is everything that it appears from the website, and more. My wife and I had a wonderful tour and a very friendly guide. The temple halls are pretty much as shown on the website – each based on different architectural concepts and periods. But there’s more to it: the whole building was renovated in the eighties by a Peruvian artist, and everything is a little over the top and inspired by, rather than being true to, the historical theme; yet the quality of work is amazing, and the whole building has a very unique, wholesome feel to it – I can imagine this would be a wonderful place to work. I shot some pictures, but either the flash killed the mood, or the room was too dim for the camera to focus properly, so check out the official pics.
I was then picked up at the building by ‘DL’, a brother I had only corresponded with until this point. We ran across town to Gramercy Park and enjoyed a light lunch at a historical site (which pretty much blew my mind), accompanied by talk of rituals and orders, the seen and unseen. It was brief, as we both had to dash, but definitely worth it. It’s always great to put a real face and name to a virtual character, and making contact across borders.
The two experiences were both great, but very different: First came the open, friendly face of freemasonry; focusing on the great personalities, the charities, the public tour. Then something more personal, touching on a world with many more layers to it – both spiritually and profanely. New York proved its reputation for being a city of contrasts.
I am afraid this was to be my last masonic visit in the states, for now. We are headed back to Denmark in a few weeks, but I still have some posts to make. And the quest doesn’t end here … in fact, it’s only just beginning.