The Masonic Lodge experience is so intellectually stimulating. So rich with art and profound meaning in its ritual, and delightful in the opportunity for life-long friendship; that it’s easy to forget that what Masons do out of Lodge is more to the point of what defines us. Correspondingly, there are a few details from January that might have been easy to overlook. Following our own first regular monthly meeting of the year, the Master and Wardens of Friendship traveled to the Washington Masonic Center to participate in the installation of the Order of Job’s Daughters Bethel 4’s officers. The women of Bethel 4 are a constant in the workings of Friendship 160, and it was our pleasure and honor to support these fine young ladies on their night to shine.
As most everyone in Friendship Lodge already knows, Worshipful Brother Mike Benson has relocated to Arkansas to give aid to his father. He set sail on this adventure last autumn, but recently came back to Portland for a week. His timing was perfect – WB Benson was in town just in time to join us at Friendship’s regular board game night and see his son for his 20th birthday. Most of our active brothers got to see Mike again, either at game night or the following day when we gathered at his family’s home to help pack his shipping pod.
Mike also made time to pitch in at the Lodge during his visit, assisting with the documenting and archiving of our collection of antiques; once again reminding us of the great fortune we have in our most experienced brothers. It was a profoundly special visit for me, as Mike was my coach and mentor when I first joined Friendship Lodge. I had served him as Senior Deacon in 2016 and have always admired his clarity of thought and principle. I met with WB Benson one more time, to see him off at the airport. My son, Michael was with us and we got one more photo of Big Mike and Little Mike together.
Our charity committee successfully executed another round of one of our recurring relief projects, by bringing 60 10′ X 12′ tarps to Operation Nightwatch; a local homeless relief organization, which you can learn more about here. While a blue tarp is a mundane thing for most of us, easily bought, used and discarded when done; the director of Operation Nightwatch thanked us and remarked, “…these are like gold for our guests.” Which leaves us all contemplating the value of everything in our lives, and grateful for the blessings we receive and pass along.
On January 24th we raised Brother Patrick Reilly to the Sublime degree of Master Mason. It was a night of marked difficulty, abundant joy, and effusive brotherly love. Despite being short handed by sickness and travel Friendship pushed onward to give our Brother one of the most special gifts of our fraternity. The ritual (and evening in total) was all the better for the efforts of our beloved brothers Tom Binkerd and Doug Auld who traveled to Friendship and pitched in after learning we were short-staffed.
At long last, having toiled hard in the quarry for all five weeks of January, Friendship Lodge closed the month by cementing the screening of “33 & Beyond: the Royal Art of Masonry” by buying out the necessary quota (curiously, 33 tickets) and giving them for free to any Brother requesting one. This film outlines the Masonic journey of a brother; from the Blue Lodge into the York Rite, and through the Scottish Rite. Many Portland Freemasons were delighted to learn it was coming to our fair city, and indeed it is well to spread this great and good work. The Brethren of Friendship also enjoyed seeing this film for themselves. It was a particular delight for me to meet Worshipful Brother Johnny Royal and present him with one of our education challenge coins. You can read a review of the film by our immediate Past Master, Leo Schuman here.
January has been a whirlwind tour of life, change and challenge; but we’ve made it through in fine style at every turn by the bounty of brotherly love and affection which defines Freemasonry. And we stride into February eager to review the petitions we’ve received, enjoy more education, a philosophy night, and as always the company of this band of brothers.