Today I went to a memorial to say goodbye, but not so long, to my brother and friend, Chet. I meet Chet when I became a mason. He was there and he was one of the first to greet me as “Brother”. His loyalty to the craft has remained strong for over 72 years. Over those years he has greeted many men for the first time as Brother.
My brother Chet was one of those rare individuals who had a loving family, both as a child and after having a family of his own. His wife of 66 years is one of the sweetest ladies you could ever meet. One could see that they loved each other and it was a love that was continuing to grow.
Men join fraternities for many reasons and remain active and engaged like my brother Chet. For some it embraces the comradery they found when in the military, for many it is an expansion of family or one they never knew and longed for, and then there are those, like Chet, who only wanted to share what they have with others.
What is it about the fraternity that continues to draw men back week after week, month after month and year after year? Is it the ritual or the lessons which are taught through the ritual? I have learned the ritual and have gained great meaning from those time-honored words. But every time I observe or participate in the degree work I learn more about why it is that I am part of this great organization. Every lesson is used to help us grow, but I have found that I need to hear these lessons on a regular basis. Each new period of growth is like the growth ring of a tree.
These lessons translate differently for each man. When I was a young man I learned the lessons quite differently than I do now. Age and experience along with the lessons only enhance their usefulness in my life. Over 6000 years of wisdom are encapsulated in the teachings of our order. It is the Wisdom that endures the test of time. Our short time on earth only re-enforces those truths to be handed down to the next generation. Chet was one of those men, who with his firm but gentle hand, handed down that wisdom with grace and brotherly love.
I will miss my brother, but I know that I will see him again and we will call each other “brother”.