Before I have even entered the world of freemasonry, it has already offered me some positive experiences:
During a trip to Istanbul we visited the Grand Bazaar in the heart of which the antiquarians were assembled. There I noticed a tray with Masonic jewellery. Particularly in the US there’s a whole market for jewellery, clothing, mouse pads adorned with Square & Compasses, and it’s not really my style. But the salesman had a set of cufflinks and lapel pin in the shape of Pythagoras’ famous theorem – and I thought that was pretty neutral: geometry (and philosophy), and only secondly freemasonry. (Only, when we came home I was informed that in England it is the symbol of “the Past Master”-title, and as such I shouldn’t wear it.) It was my first real try at haggling and I was quite pleased, but the young man with whom I traded closed shop immediately after, so that was probably a bad sign …
In Istanbul we naturally visited the Hagia Sophia as well (picture taken from Declan Mccullagh Photography).). A great meeting with ancient architecture – Justinian’s pride is understandable: “I have outdone thee, O Solomon”
In March my job took me to London, and it was both an opportunity to see Freemasons’ Hall (free tour, recommended), and meet up with some of the guys from my favourite forum. Unfortunately it was also my first experience with London’s public transport system, and I was late for the meeting. Luckily one of them kept flexible work hours, and we had time for a few pints in the evening. That is an incredible perspective, being able to find people everywhere that will welcome you with open arms, as a brother. One of the things that I look forward to a lot.
Then, early in the summer I was married, and I received some nice gifts: My father gave me a gold pin that he was given at his Initiation some 30 years earlier – a really fine gift, and I know that my taking this path is important to him, even though he couldn’t make it work with his private responsibilities himself. The morning after, I got a beautiful dress coat from my wife. There are those who want less formality in the dress code to please younger generations, but that’s the wrong way to go about it: for me the formality is one of the attractions.
Also, I have become increasingly aware of people that I associate with or know from the media as freemasons, that have been quiet about it. It is interesting to find how my still somewhat abstract understanding of the order ties into known faces and attitudes.
[Date of original post: August 11, 2005]