Liberal Arts – The New Millennium

 

inline-the-company-chaos-you-dont-know-youre-creatingOkay, hive mind, I have a question for you: Do you think Liberal Arts are important? Do you think that they are shrinking in importance in our public education system? Maybe in our private ones, too?

My goal this year is to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to education… specifically, the liberal arts. I’m in the process of crafting a mission statement and goals. My target age group specifically is High School and older, all the way through adulthood. I want to do something similar to a classical ancient educational center, with a type of small class (Oxford Tutorial?) maybe open air, with a center and focus on liberal arts and thinking.

Source: Liberal Arts Degrees: Can They Still Get You a Job?
We are quickly losing the ability to think critically, step through problems logically, and use rhetoric to make our points. Worse still, we pride ourselves on feeling our way through debates rather than applying reasoning. I went to school in the 70s and college in the 80s, and liberal arts were looked down on at that time, but not wholly forgotten. Today, they seem to be the first studies cut, in favor of applying money to vocational training. I’m all for having a vocation but we need to use all of our brains to be able to create a better human race. Quite honestly, I think we are where we are today in the United States because we have failed to teach all of the Trivium and Quadrivium.

So, let me first ask… what do you think of the liberal arts?

Let’s ask more questions… how important do you find Liberal arts in your daily life? Do you value it personally? Do you think it’s necessary for a strong culture? Do  you find it lacking? If so, how and why? Where? What do you think the answers are? I want to hear from you – see if what I see is what other see. You’re smart Masons, and you already value the idea of knowledge and study. If you could “fix” it, what would you fix? If you want to take a survey for me, that would help out a whole lot. Here’s the link: http://thedarkduchess.polldaddy.com/s/more-on-liberal-arts. I’ll post the results here in a few weeks.

Thanks!! ~Kris

Understanding Chaos

inline-the-company-chaos-you-dont-know-youre-creatingIn this first month of 2017, here in America and in some other countries, there has been a great deal of what we like to call chaos. Chaos is “complete disorder or disruption.” However, I’m going to challenge us all, especially Freemasons, to look at Chaos differently. We put “Order out of Chaos” but what does this mean? The challenge I have is to look at Chaos as something different and necessary to life and growth, or at least our ability to tell the difference.

Let me first start by saying this is not, emphasis on NOT, a political discussion. This is using an event in politics to illustrate a point. However you feel about the politics/events, right or wrong, is irrelevant to the content of this blog. What I want to do is illustrate how science and nature have a real place in our processes to affect change. Think differently. That said, here we go.

A recent event happened in politics in America – the Immigration Executive Order that Trump signed on January 27th. The executive order was, by mostly-credible accounts thus far, written by Steve Bannon, a self-designated fear monger. He stated, in a 2010 interview, “Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action.” He also stated that “I’m a Leninist,” [quoted as saying by a writer for The Daily Beast] He later said he did not recall the conversation. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too,” the site quoted him as saying. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”  Mr. Bannon told The Washington Post this year, “We call ourselves ‘the Fight Club.’ You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy. We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-’ the permanent political class. We say Paul Ryan was grown in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.”

I do not think that Mr. Bannon is alone in his thinking this way, especially across the current appointees and heads of various government agencies. I think Trump has a specific goal in mind: introduce chaos into the system to turn it on its head and change it. The difficulty that most people have is that it is chaos mixed with fear, hatred, and injustice – not Masonic values at all.

In a recent Facebook posting, historian Heather Cox Richardson explained this “shock event” in very succinct and clear terms – what it is, what the outcomes may be, and what we can do to overcome it. The full text can be found in this blog. I think that one of the best sentences in this piece, and one we should all take hold of is this: “But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.” Her point, in other words, is that we don’t have to react in ways we’ve always reacted – we can take our emotions and work differently. It takes consciousness, focus, and effort. It takes energy. Energy.

thermodynamicsHere’s where I want to turn chaos on its head. In the world of science, specifically physics and thermodynamics, chaos equates to entropy. Entropy is not sitting on your couch, drinking a Coors, and watching the game. No. In physics, entropy is the lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. Simply stated, entropy is the spreading of energy until it is evenly spread. A great, in-depth, and head-expanding article on the second law of thermodynamics and entropy is here. I warn you, it’s long and even though it says “simple,” it takes focus to really follow the whole article. Bottom line: let’s just say, energy disperses.

If you look at our country, or any “related system” I will call it, we were founded by many humans with a great deal of energy for change. Events which upset the equilibrium – taxation, religious persecution, and the like – created energy, which in turn led people to expend their energy differently – fighting for and creating a new country and a new form of government. This energy, related to the creating of the United States of America, has over time, received influxes of upsets to its equilibrium; these are the events more remembered as shapers of the country. It is how we got to where we are today.

How does this relate to thermodynamics and physics? Hang with me, I’m getting there. There is new discussion about entropy and how physics can be applied to the biology of life. Another long article but with a very clear video about the thoughts and theories is found here. In essence, the article explains that in the end, thought (that is, intention, logic, and problem-solving) are the keys to fighting entropy and disorder. Another way of looking at this is that the destruction of forms happens because of entropy; the introduction of an upset to the equilibrium staves off entropy (chaos) and causes the current energy to reorganize and become a viable source for change. We can look at teleology as having a connection to thermodynamics rather than biology. Simply said, thought is energy.

Did I lose you? I might have lost myself. But, stay with me. Where I’m getting to is this: Freemasonry values nature and science – we need to look at both for the answers of how did we get here and where do we go next. Let’s take a step and connect biology, physics, and politics, weird as that may be, into a line and we can see how we got here. And, to Heather Cox Richardson’s point, how we get out. We need to take whatever energies we receive from the upset of the equilibrium and turn it into a thoughtful way to change our world. chaos-3Like the small discs of atoms the researchers used in their experiments in the above article, we too can use tools and socially organize into effective change advocates. We can create something new from the impetus we’ve been given. To me, Freemasonry has given me the balance to look at something like Chaos as see it as a blessing. I’m not talking about how that chaos is delivered, which may involve incredible emotional and physical upheaval. Pain, Fear, Hate, Ignorance – all of these continue. It is in our responses where we can affect the change. Until we think about our next moves, use the energy that we’ve been given to that plan of thought, and execute well, the shock event will actually create nothing new at all. I might even venture to say that what we might view as negative change can actually be what positive change needs to get going. All of these lessons are clear in nearly all degrees of Freemasonry. Sometimes, it takes chaos for us to see the value in what we’re learning. If we can take a breath and use our thought processes to absorb the disruption, we might be able to see the value in all sides of an event.

 

Egregore

maxresdefaultEgregore (also egregor) is a collection of thoughts put forth from a group mind. It’s a simplistic explanation of a complex concept – at least to me. Psychologically speaking, an Egregore is that “atmosphere” or “personality” that develops among groups independent of any of its members. It is the feeling or impression you get when walking into a restaurant, store, or neighborhood that something feels… different. It’s not wrong or odd, just… different.

“The word “Egregore” derives from the Greek word egrégoroi meaning “watchers.” The word appears in the Septuagint translation of the Book of Lamentations, as well as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch. Gaetan Delaforge, in Gnosis Magazine in 1987, defines an Egregore as a kind of group mind which is created when people consciously come together for a common purpose.” Think of groups coming together to build something, like Habitat for Humanity, or like the feeling of a synagogue that prays together for a common cause. No, those aren’t quite right. It’s more of the feeling that comes from doing the work in a group, of like-minded people. Being in the midst of the common mind working for a specific purpose, which feels powerful. Transformative, even. Egregore implies, by its definition, spending time and energy to create…something.

This word, egregore, came up recently in a conversation with a fellow Mason, and I wondered at its true meaning. It isn’t a word in my everyday vocabulary and not one I had heard or used more than maybe once. It was time to brush up. I found an astounding number of occult meanings and, to be frank, made up ones as well. I know that the word was first used by Victor Hugo, and the root is noted above. But, the idea of egregore is, I think, difficult to put into exact words. It’s kind of like other concepts of “good” and “bad” – you may not have the adequate words but you know it when you see it. Egregore is that same way for me: I “know” what it means and I have seen it, and felt it, in action. Yet, saying it feels, frankly, a little “woo-woo.” A little fluffy, new-agey, and weird. But, I know it exists.

There are some who feel that an Egregore is an entity unto itself; the being is a collection of spiritual, emotional, and mental energies put forth by a group of people with a single purpose in mind. I don’t know that it has a consciousness of its own; rather, I think it ebbs and flows as the group “moves” through its work. I think in well-done ritual, the Egregore can be felt moving among the members of whatever group is working toward the goal. When I think of Egregore, I think of the pinnacle of a Freemasonic ritual: all members working together to achieve the goal of promoting the best welfare of humanity, combating ignorance and hate, and striving to bring beauty and wisdom into the light. Think of a Masonic ritual that felt incredible and think of what made it feel that way – THAT is egregore. I think that Leadbeater alluded to it in “The Science of the Sacraments” in his discussions about censing the Church space.

A Masonic blogger, E.C. Ballard, wrote the following, “So, what does any of this have to do beehivewith Freemasonry? The symbols, rituals and meetings of a group, when repeated over time, develop an egregore or group mind which binds the members together, harmonizes, motivates and stimulates them to realize the aims of the group, and enables the individual members to make more spiritual progress than if they worked alone.”  This is why I think symbols all have meaning – more than the one we discern from their location or use in Lodge. We smell the Lodge incense and this brings our hippocampus to a place of Order and Structure – the temple room. It’s the shivers we all get up our spines during any initiatory ceremony, when certain names or elements are invoked. The Freemason’s ritual, by its very nature, followed correctly creates this egregore.

And… this is really what I mean about being able to identify a Masonic egregore. I once wrote, in a personal essay, “I don’t know exactly how Freemasonry works, but it does work. I am a far better person today than I was before, by applying Masonic principles and being open to learning. Had those two things not come together, Freemasonry would not have worked.” So, for me, egregore is the “work” achieved by a group mind, coupled with the willingness to receive that work. Sounds remotely like discipline, doesn’t it?

Interestingly enough, both group mind and willingness are addressed by the structure of Freemasonry. The willingness to work, well, that’s a given. We come to the group of our own free will, and we can leave of our own free will. Freedom of choice is the purest example of a willingness to work. If we don’t want to do the work, learn the lessons, or put in time, why do we stay? We shouldn’t. Freemasonry doesn’t or shouldn’t bend to our will. It’s not about us. It’s about us conforming to the rules and regulations and more than that, being willing to be honest with ourselves about being there. If we’re not willing to submit to Masonic discipline, why the heck are we there? Why spend the money, time, and effort to be there? It’s far better for the individual and the group if the person chooses one way or the other and then…just does it.masonicsymbols

The second piece, creating the group mind, is far more difficult to qualify… In articles I have been reading recently, on leadership, there is a concept called emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s)” The term has been thrown around psychologists for fifty years but it has only recently (1990s) been the subject of business and leadership roles. The basic premise is this: in order to build effective teams, everyone must be working at their highest level of emotional intelligence, which develops trust, and eventually creates a team that is able to do anything towards which they put their minds and efforts.

Emotional intelligence develops “corporate culture”, which is like Masonic egregore.  The ritual brings a physical demand in our lives; study and philosophical discussions bring mental stimulation. I think we forget the emotional component to Freemasonry and that is emotional intelligence – how we dispense justice, how we reprehend, our voices when speaking with people – things the ritual instructs us in on how to live. By combining the first two, physical discipline with study and mental exertion, with the third, well-regulated emotions, we get Freemasonic egregore. At least, it appears that way. Maybe the concept of the “Lodge” or maybe even “Freemasonry” is itself an egregore.

I think we have to test it ourselves. How does Lodge make us feel? How does well-rehearsed ritual sound and express itself? Do we feel satisfied when the pieces work well together? How do we feel when they don’t? How does it feel to stand in a Lodge room alone? What about with other members? What happens when there are three people attending a meeting versus fifteen? What happens to the Lodge when one or two members are not “hooked in” and trusting the Lodge, the Master, or the Order?

earthWith Freemasonry, it feels as if one needs to be “all in” in order to even start to build a true Freemason’s Lodge: a curated collection of people coming together in a thriving and growing group that finds, eventually, its own brilliant egregore. Perhaps that is what we are searching for and why Freemasonry appeals to us as human beings. The mystical experience that some members hope to find is really this egregore that, in some ways, we are all hoping to find. We all want to make a place in the world – leave our mark or our legacy. As Freemasons, that is a better humanity. Masons seem to be searching for that community that brings us hope, trust, and peace. Finding it takes a lot of work, it seems. But having seen it, I find it pure Beauty, pure Wisdom, and perhaps a brief insight into what the Divine really is like.

Discipline

selfdiscipline2Something I’ve been thinking about for a while now is discipline. We humans are funny beings. We value discipline and yet…not really. We need the structure but we, especially North Americans, value our “freedom.” We have funny ideas about freedom, too. Freedom isn’t do everything you want, and discipline is not don’t do everything you want. True freedom and true discipline are free from excuses. Both are situational, that is, each has its own breadth of structure applied to the situation you are in. For example, school rooms have a certain discipline but the recess yard has another discipline. They may overlap, or they may be 180 degrees from each other.  To have discipline is to be a disciple of something – that is, the discipline is applicable to the governing body, group, committee, or any other social structure. It may not even be social in nature – there are many solitary pursuits that have a discipline; think religions, sports, or even academia. To be free is to be at liberty, as opposed to being restrained or constricted. To be free is to enjoy your individual rights. Perhaps, even the individual right to pursue a personal discipline.

I grew up thinking that discipline was a dirty word. My parents, products of a Depression generation, felt that you provide moral and ethical discipline, hand, belt, or wooden spoon – didn’t matter. And you know what? I turned out okay. I might not have been OK with everything they did but I could see the value of that kind of upbringing, for the most part. I know a lot of people in my generation did not value that discipline and in turn, have made discipline a dirty word for their children. Today, any kind of spanking seems to result in a huge uproar of child abuse. It’s interesting that a Google search of “physical discipline” immediately comes up with the definition “corporal punishment” and images of fists and violence. Discipline is none of those. For humanity’s sake, there has to be a balance.

Where my parents did not have discipline was in the gaining of material things. It was a product of not having much as children; to compensate, they were unrestrained in their material desires. In turn, I have a tendency to succumb to those same desires – will the next “thing” make me feel better? I’ve come to find that spot in my consciousness that seems to feel a need and when I want to go fill the need, I have to ask what it is I really am looking for. Where I have moved beyond upbringing is the understanding of myself and the need to find the world beyond that immediate desire.

discipline1To me, this is a personal discipline. I need to invoke my own method, structure of analyzing a situation and put rules and guidelines down for myself to be able become better disciplined in this world. The discipline changes as I change, and as the world changes. In another culture, in another time, my upbringing might have been okay in the world. In this, my world, my desire to be a better person is driving my need to invoke this discipline for myself.

I don’t know that I would have recognized discipline if it weren’t for Freemasonry. Perhaps it would have taken a very long time. Freemasonry allowed me windows into my own psyche and in others experiences  which I might not have been privy to without its influence. I remember a new member a very long time ago who seemed to fight the discipline of Freemasonry. She was in her late 30’s and a long time practitioner of many mystery schools and esoteric teachings. She presented herself as self-confident and perhaps a little angry at the world. In her first four or five months of Masonry, she bridled at the need to discipline her body to sit for long periods of time, to keep silent and not provide her opinion at every turn, to quiet her mind and be still. During her reading of a personal essay, before she was to go through another ceremony, she burst into tears while reading. She opened her soul to us. She felt as if all of the previous work she had done, the disciplines she had followed, were not fully there for her. Freemasonry was the first order she belonged to that had provided her the structure she needed for who she was at that time, to begin a new life. She taught me that if we the Lodge had not strove to be disciplined in Freemasonry, she would not have had that experience. How powerful a transformation for all of us because of Masonic discipline.

Every degree, every step, every office in Freemasonry we obligate our selves to follow Masonic discipline. Literally. We vow with our heart and soul to do what needs to be done to be good Masons. Discipline has two sides: the discipline that is invoked by the individual and the group, and the recipient’s acceptance of that discipline. It is a cycle, in Freemasonry, and in this cycle, we reap as we sow.

discipline-quote-and-photoI shake my head, and find it a little funny, when people tell me that I have high expectations, or that I should “cut some slack” or “have compassion.” I find it funny because I was there. I had excuses. I was that undisciplined fool. I have been the talker in the study hall during a ceremony that I could not attend. I have not learned the lines that I should have. I have shown up with sloppy clothes, dirty aprons, too much jewelry. I have talked in lodge meetings, made faces at people, told people what to do when I should not have, and not done my own job. In each case, someone corrected me. In each case, someone had to care enough to invoke the discipline necessary to correct me, to make me think about what I was doing, to help me become better at knowing myself and my own life. Without that structure, without their strength, I would not be who I am today. I accepted the discipline and they provided the discipline to me. It comes full cycle. I hope that, today, I have been of service to those who provided me with the Masonic structure, and I hope I provide that to the Masons with whom I share Lodge.

I also have the view that it is unfair to ask of my brothers less than I would ask of myself or anyone. Why would I assume that someone can’t be disciplined if they are a Freemason? Why would I assume someone couldn’t do something physical, mental, or emotional if they have taken the same path I have taken? To me, that is demeaning and rude, discriminatory, and frankly, un-Masonic. My brothers are level with me, square with me, and fully capable of following Masonic discipline. My brothers are strong, capable, and striving to be better, just as I am. I want to be the best Freemason I can be. I am sure all Freemasons want that. Don’t be easy on me. Consider me worthy of the discipline and help me be that better person.

Discipline is not punishment. Discipline does not have to be guided with a harsh voice, a sharp tongue, or violence, especially not in Freemasonry. We are human, and sometimes frustrations come through. We are all a work in progress. Invoking discipline in and of itself is not mean, harsh, or cruel – quite the opposite. It says we care enough about our fellow members and the institution of Freemasonry to speak up and not be silent. Are we not to reprehend with mercy? Judge with candor? Discipline guided with brotherly love – where else can we find that?

discipline3Discipline is no longer a dirty word in my vocabulary. To me, it means following some guiding principle, some Light to make me a better human being and a better citizen and friend. It has helped me learn the value of my words and commitments, of the virtues of fairness and integrity, and hopefully the knowledge that I have far, far more to learn. I can only hope that my fellow members continue to share discipline with me, in a sort of joyous sacrament that brings us all to better community and Masonic fellowship. Discipline is safety. Discipline is Love. Discipline is success.

 

Change

1-changeintroThe definition of change is to “make or become different.” I like that – simple, clear, clean. We know what change is when we see it – it’s different than it was. Change is inevitable, constant, and unrelenting. We think we are static, that the world, processes, and life is static day to day. A building there today will be there tomorrow. We barely notice the change that goes on around us. This is why when big change comes, we balk. We fail to recognise that we are changing all the time. Our world round us is changing all the time; plants are growing and dying, people are growing and dying. Human-made artifacts change when we will them to change – streets, buildings, water ways, processes, web sites, banking practices, laws, consumer products. Change occurs because of need. There is the creative need of humans and the biological needs of living beings.  The universe itself is in a constant state of change – building up, decay, breaking down. Time moves because we perceive change; change occurs in response to time. Time, space, and change. It’s all connected in our minds.

This begs the question, why are we humans so resistant to change? We throw tantrums, ignore emails, fight for the “old way” of doing things in response to the changes that occur on or near us. I think that it’s self-change, or change that imposes itself upon our own lives/egos that is the challenge. Self-change seems to be so difficult that we have whole books, classes, and therapy sessions dedicated to it. We feel the need to change, to grow, to be better than we were – we just lack “something” to get us there.

Change is, I think, why we want to become Freemasons. I think that somewhere, deep
inside or maybe not so deep, we want to be better than we are – different in the ways that are truly, authentically “us.” Maybe we joined to “change the world.” Or, maybe we joined for camaraderie; but, that is change, toomarketing-and-climate-change-thumb. Who we place in our environment, where we place ourselves – all of that affects us and is, in and of itself, change. We cannot expect to become Freemasons and not change, nor not be able to learn how to embrace change. Indeed, even as we pass many degrees and think “I’ve been a Freemason for a long time now… there’s nothing new,” we find ourselves to be wrong. Our Orders, our Lodges, who passes to the Grand Lodge above and who remains – everything constantly changes. We have to learn to adapt and thrive else we die. Drastic? Sure. True, nonetheless.

In the past year, I’ve seen plenty of Masonic change. I’ve seen opportunities for growth presented, and I’ve seen them seized and brought to life, left to wither and atrophy, disregarded, overwhelmed, or frightened off. I take this time of year to reflect on what I’ve seen and what my own challenges have been. I think that the Temple of Apollo inscription of “Know Thyself” is the first step in overcoming the challenges of change. Interestingly enough, Apollo was god of the Sun and Light. To find the Light, and enter into its presence, metaphorically in the Temple, we need to know thyself. What I found in all the situations where change presented has been change retarded, all of the people involved may not have known themselves, including me. If we had, we might have spoke up and regulated the change, or made compromises, or adjusted our lives to fit the change. I’ve seen people who realize that change is coming, or arrived, and when they know they cannot meet it, stay silent. I, too, have stayed silent. We believe our silence will keep the rest of the world from knowing we cannot meet the change as we supposed. The real lesson is not that the individual failed to change and grow; the real lesson is that they didn’t know themselves enough to speak up, speak out, ask for help, or negotiate the change better. It seems to me, in Freemasonry, no one will judge harshly the ones who speak up and know their own limitations, who are honest with themselves and others; at least, it is so in my Order. It is far better to speak up and ask for assistance than to bury our heads in the sand and ignore what is happening. Burying our metaphorical heads not only hurts us but it hurts our fellow Freemasons, our families, our promises and obligations, and maybe even our Orders. Silence, incorrectly embraced, kills.

Freemasonry has, this past year, presented me with challenges to change and become better. I have not met those changes well and challenges still abound. I’m learning when it’s okay to become angry and vocal, and when I should just observe things unfolding and wait. I’m learning to let go of the need to be “right” and to let the mistakes and errors take place, and then see how the changes occur. If they do not, then I assist. I’m learning what is ego, and what is not, and what the truth of a situation might be – then take the next step to participate in the change. The U.S. election process this year taught me to speak out more. My Masonic participation has taught me to speak out more. eraseMy brothers and family have taught me to speak out more. I always thought that I was able to speak up; what I found is that on paper, I can. Verbally, I struggle with communicating clearly and understandably to larger groups of people. As we move into the new year, I see more challenges for this activity coming as my duties continue to change. I need to improve here, or else things will become more difficult for me and everyone else. Hopefully, knowing why I struggle and where I struggle, I will be able to set myself up for success and achieve some measure of it. It is the journey, and not the destination. That is, perhaps, what I’ve learned from the 32nd Degree most of all – it IS a lifelong journey, fraught with all kinds of challenges and change. I need to remember to dedicate myself to that fight – to have my heart set for whatever comes and to prepare my mind and body for it as well. It is the balance between spirit and matter, eternal and corporeal, and the fact that the journey is completed with the help of my fellow Freemasons.

Change is necessary. I’ve heard people say “we shouldn’t change for change’s sake.” I think random chaotic change is not helpful, true. I agree with that. Yet, if change is happening all around us, it cannot help but affect us. Those effects will be felt, whether we want to feel them or not. Change not embraced does not mean change is absent. Oh no. Change continues without you; it simply happens TO you and ON you rather than WITH you. Why would we want to give up that control, to flow with and embrace the change in our own way, rather than fight it? Or worse yet, why would we fight it only to know we will be worse off in the end? We cannot stop change…but we can affect it.

Change is coming. It’s a new year, with new Lodge formations, new officers, new challenges, new members, new ritual changes, new laws, new process, and new procedure. If we Freemasons do not learn to deal with change, we cannot be of service to ourselves nor to the world around us. Many, many things will change and we Freemasons need to be ready for the change – whether they are Masonic, political, legal, physical, or emotional. We need to continue the process of understanding and knowing ourselves. We should recognize that the most interesting of human studies is contained with us – the knowledge of ourselves. If we do not know ourselves, we know nothing at all. This is the perfect time of year for turning inward and and examining, critically but without malice, those things inside of us that should remain to die on the vine, what we want to keep to encourage for the New Year. It’s this time of year I finalize what I want to achieve in the coming year; mbfspI’ve done this for 30 years and I’ll continue to do it. I seem to change my format every year, even though I do the act every year. Change within a constant. A constant that continually changes. “We can never step into the same river twice.
That river isn’t the same, moment to moment. Water is experience and memory, the flow is time. It is filled with life of all sorts – that which goes with it and that which sits firmly in its embrace, unmoving. Grasses, fish, or rock. I think it’s good to remember that the river also changes the rock sunk into its bed. The river smooths, polishes, and yes, changes the stone. The stone wears down and adds itself to the river. Over time, change happens, whether we will it to or not. We can be the stone, or we can be the river grasses, or we can be the water. We know what fits us best. What we need to keep in mind is that we are all, cognizant or not, changing to flow with that river.

Blessed Solstice, everyone! And a very Happy New Year!

The Mind of a Mason

I remember back to my very first visit as an officer to a Grand Lodge workshop. I was a freshly minted M.M, fresh off the proverbial “training” boat. My mother Lodge was small at the time, and I learned to do more than a few officer positions at the same time – trying to fill multiple offices to the best of my ability. In a small Lodge, you have no choice. You learn quickly and you learn variety. Most of all, you learn flexibility.

Now I was finally going to the “source” of ritual learning, where the meetings were not only full but full of officers. I was so nervous. I had heard stories of the people who had gone to workshops before me – be ready, learn your lines, make sure you are used to living in dorms, etc. I worked hard to prepare and be there the entire time, ready to suck up all the learning I could. My first office was something that I thought was “easy.” I showed up at rehearsal, lines memorized, ready to go.  Continue reading

The Importance of Social Capital

empty-mindA phrase came into my head, recently, about some of the things I would like to do with my life. Let me back up a bit… about this time of year, I always sit down and write my goals for the coming year. I call them goals, but let’s call it… a theme, a direction, some things I’d like to see, do, and maybe achieve. They aren’t goals, per se – more like guidelines. This year, I am trying a different tack, one from a company called The Dragontree Apothecary. It’s a book to walk through your year, interactive – kinda of hipster, but it’s something different. I’ve been doing this exercise for thirty years; sometimes a girl has to find something new.

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