A Stinging Reminder of the Virtue of Industry

A Stinging Reminder of the Virtue of Industry

MASONIC LIFE

A Stinging Reminder of the Virtue of Industry

Cultures around the world and across eons have recognized the sacred nature of the honeybee. To the Cherokee, the bee represents the reward of patience, and its sting is the penalty for greed. The Celts and the Greeks alike believed bees had supernatural powers and that they could travel between worlds. The Bible mentions honey numerous times, always relating to purity or plenty. In Freemasonry, the Beehive represents the work of the Master Mason and the industry of our lodges, as it inculcates team work and dedication as means toward shared security and prosperity.

A recent incident, as I was being installed as Senior Warden of Sigma Council Princes of Jerusalem at the Valley of Schenectady, drew my attention to the industrious nature of the bee and its important message to the brothers of our great fraternity.

Photo: “Valley of Schenectady installation group photo “

 

It was a warm evening, and Beukendaal Lodge 915’s building was buzzing with brothers and their families who gathered to celebrate the installation. Ill. David E. Barnes lined up the officers according to their line and rank. We walked out and stood at one end of the lodge as the proceedings began. I kept seeing something fluttering around the light above my head, but I ignored it, preoccupied with the importance of this moment to me and my brothers.

I wanted to be a great officer and make my fellow Sublime Princes proud, but my day job all too often makes it hard for me to be as involved as I’d like. In fact, I was exhausted, and my mind drifted back to my long day at work. Suddenly something landed on the back of my neck. I reached back and grabbed it. Ouch! I got stung by a honeybee! I was stunned for a moment, my hand throbbed in pain. I looked at the sting and thought man, what an incredibly bad time to get stung! I was glad I’m not allergic. I turned to the brother to my right and joked about it, saying I hope it wasn’t some sort of omen.

As the evening progressed, I continued to think about the sting. My friend, Paul Meher, Jr., 32° and Deputy Master of Sigma Lodge of Perfection, joked that maybe it followed me home from my work as a pest control service manager. The more I think about it, the more I believe it was a message from the Great Architect reminding me how Freemasons should be industrious, never sitting down while those around us are in need, especially when it is in our power to do so without injury to ourselves.

 

We must be as loyal as the worker bee is to the hive and its queen. We must impart our knowledge to the Entered Apprentice. If our individual lodges and our great fraternity are to thrive, we must perform our respective and many parts. Whether it be as small as checking on absent brothers, assisting an elder brother climb the stairs, helping to cover lodge expenses, volunteering to clean after an event, or serving as an officer, all labors contribute to a healthy hive for generations to come.

Photo: Bee hive at Masters Lodge 5 in Albany NY

Written by Bro. Russell W. Dickson

Bro. Dickson is the Senior Deacon in St. Patrick’s Lodge 4 and is at labor in Collabergh-Radium 859, both in New York. He is a Royal Arch Mason in Hiram Union Chapter 53, and is a 32° Scottish Rite Mason at the Valley of Schenectady, where he serves as Senior Warden of Sigma Council Princes of Jerusalem. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in journalism from the State University of New York at Albany, and has been a freelance journalist for more than twenty-five years. His work has been published internationally, in multiple languages, by both online and print news outlets.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

An Apprentice’s Twenty-year Journey to the Sublime Degree

An Apprentice’s Twenty-year Journey to the Sublime Degree

MASONIC LIFE

AN APPRENTICE’S TWENTY-YEAR JOURNEY

TO THE SUBLIME DEGREE

I am often asked what happened during the twenty years between my being made an Entered Apprentice and being raised a Master Mason. A more interesting story is why I joined and what brought me back. It was as simple as one brother reaching out to another.

It was a brisk October evening in 2002. I nervously put on my Sears & Roebuck suit and kissed my wife goodbye. She told me she was proud of me as I closed the door to our little Verplank apartment and drove off. A little while later, I parked in front of this beautiful old building. It was Collabergh-Radium Lodge 859. I barely knew a soul inside and wondered what was going to happen within, as I looked at the Square and Compasses on its façade. I walked up the front steps as a cool wind bristled through the trees and a few leaves spiraled down the sidewalk. I opened the door and entered and was immediately greeted by warm smiling faces that put my mind at ease. Then I was seated in the room adjoining the lodge room, was prepared in the manner of an Entered Apprentice, and was about to go forward as all brethren who have gone this way before.

But I never thought it would take twenty years to complete my journey from Entered Apprentice to Master Mason.

I grew up hearing about the legacy of Freemasonry in my family history. My mother is a very proud Eastern Star, as was my grandmother. I was told my grandfather was a Mason, although he never spoke about it (maybe because I was too young to join before he died). Then there was Uncle Walter, who also was a Mason. I often heard stories about what a good man he was.
He was in a “secret society” of great men, I was told. I often wondered what kind of magical things these men were up to in their lodges. My grandparents owned a beautiful old Victorian home in Bedford Hills, New York, where I’d spent a lot of time growing up. My grandfather was a structural engineer retired from the New York Central Railroad. I loved to explore my grandparents’ property.

My favorite place was their attic with all the magical items within. One day, something caught my eye. A beam of light shining through a pane of wavy glass in the attic window illuminating a wood box in the corner. It was like something out of The Chronicles of Narnia. I walked over and blew the dust off the lid, revealing a Square and Compasses. When I opened it, I found my great grandfather’s constable badge, some arrow heads, a hat, a white apron, a Masonic Bible, and an old poster. Across the top was written “The Steps of Freemasonry.” I was awestruck! What were the degrees listed on this poster? Who were these great people? I had to join them one day. Years later, while studying at the University at Albany, the Craft called to me again. I spent some time studying famous Freemasons, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other Founding Fathers.

I graduated UAlbany in 1999; married my beautiful girlfriend, Hana; and we had our son, William. I admired my father-in-law, he was a Freemason in the Czech Republic, so I decided to give it a try. I printed out a petition, mailed it, and waited for a response. A short time later I completed my first degree.

After my initiation, I entered the dining room and was warmly received by my new brothers. They gave me a Bible, which they all signed, and my apron. The Three Tenets of Freemasonry, they explained, are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. It would take me twenty years to fully understand this. Soon after receiving the degree, the realities of life began to hit hard. I was a first-time father and a husband eager to make my way in the world. My wife couldn’t work because she didn’t have a Green Card, and my son was a toddler. They were dependent on me for everything. I had to do something drastic to improve our situation, so we moved upstate to Johnstown in hope of a better life. I took a job to have a steady income between writing gigs, and the years rolled on.

I thought about Freemasonry often. The impact of leaving the brotherhood weighed heavy on my mind. I longed to return, but didn’t know how, didn’t know whom to ask, didn’t know how they would respond to me. My life was good, and I wasn’t working so many hours anymore. My son is now grown. I put him and my wife through college. They are both very successful now. Something was missing though.

It appears the Great Architect wasn’t done with me, as fate and circumstance intervened in 2021.
Why did I come back after twenty years? Because of one brother reaching out to another. Bro. Paul Meher is a member at St Patrick’s Lodge 4. Serendipitously, our kids were dating and that led to us meeting. He invited my family to dine with his, and the rest is history.

We began to talk. I told him my situation and he convinced me to give Freemasonry another shot. It was then that I met the greatest bunch of guys I’ve ever known, and they all worked together to bring me into the fold.

The brothers at St. Patrick’s Lodge in Johnstown helped me restart the journey that I had begun so long ago one cold autumn night in 2002 in the hopes becoming a better man. They taught me that through service I can build meaningful relationships both within and without the lodge with my Masonic brothers. They passed me to the Degree of Fellow Craft, and raised me to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason after twenty years! It has been an incredible journey so far, with the brothers of my lodge and the area concordant bodies, and it has only just begun. In the words of my friend and brother, Ill. Peter J Samiec, “Freemasonry is a wonderful experience. Enjoy the journey!” And I have and will continue to do so.

By Bro. Russell W. Dickson

Bro. Dickson is the Senior Deacon in St. Patrick’s Lodge 4 and remains at labor in Collabergh-Radium 859, both in New York. He is a Royal Arch Mason in Hiram Union Chapter 53, and is a 32° Scottish Rite Mason at the Valley of Schenectady, where he serves as Senior Warden of Sigma Council Princes of Jerusalem. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in journalism from the State University of New York at Albany, and has been a freelance journalist for more than twenty-five years. His work has been published internationally, in multiple languages, by both online and print news outlets.

Jason Short
Meeting on the Level

Meeting on the Level

MASONIC LIFE

Meeting on the Level… at the head table

“We are all brothers just trying to do our parts”

While I was initiated into Freemasonry in October of 2002 at Collabergh-Radium Lodge 859 in Nelsonville, New York, I was not passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft and raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason for another twenty years, in June 2022, so I consider myself a relative newcomer to the Craft, but I am very eager to learn as much as I can. I serve as Senior Deacon of St. Patrick’s Lodge 4 in Johnstown, NY, where I received the Second and Third degrees, and I am a 32° Scottish Rite Mason and a Royal Arch Mason as well. In my labors and during my travels, there is one fundamental that continually comes up in ritual and is reflected in experience: We meet on the Level and part upon the Square. It is a way we prescribe how Freemasons should treat one another both within lodge and without.

St. Patrick’s 4 is among the four oldest lodges in New York State. It is a lodge with an incredible linage, having been founded by William Johnson in 1766—even before the founding of our country. I consider myself lucky to attend a lodge with numerous Worshipful and Right Worshipful brethren, including our District Deputy Grand Master, and Ill. Peter J. Samiec, 33°, the recently retired Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient Accepted Sottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Other brothers I have had the privilege of meeting, while attending my lodge and various concordant bodies around the Capital Region, include The Most Worshipful Steven Adam Rubin, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York.

While attending lodge alongside such well-informed brethren, it is hard to resist placing them on a pedestal, but it is those two brothers at the apex of leadership in Freemasonry, M.W. Rubin and Ill. Samiec, who were the first to teach me this Masonic lesson. “We are all brothers just trying to do our parts,” as Grand Master Rubin phrased it. I admit I still struggle with the concept due to my admiration of our fraternity, but it is sinking in as I continue my journey for more Light in Masonry. An experience I had as a new Sublime Prince attending the Valley of Schenectady’s holiday party a couple years back is where a few brothers showed me how we treat each other with humility, respect, and honesty.

It was my first Scottish Rite event. My wife and I were a little nervous. We had some trouble locating the venue, so we arrived just as it started. The room was packed. Every table was full except one, front and center. We walked over and sat down. Right across was Ill. David E. Barnes, Active Member of Supreme Council; Ill. Gerald T. Wright, Commander in Chief of Sigma Consistory at the time; and Ill. Oscar Alleyne. The coup de grâce came when the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite NMJ, Ill. Samiec, with his lovely wife Gail, took the seats next to us. I whispered to my wife “That’s the Sovereign Grand Commander sitting next to you!” as a bead of sweat rolled down my forehead and a chill ran up my spine.

We had mistakenly sat at the head table.

Photo: (L to R: Bro. Dickson w/MW Steven Adam Rubin)

Pictured: (L to R: Bro. Dickson with Ill. Peter J. Samiec, 33°)

I felt so unworthy, as a new Master Mason and Sublime Prince, to be seated accidentally among such great Masons. I whispered to Randy Meschutt, then Most Wise Master of Sigma Chapter of Rose Croix, as he passed, that I mistakenly seated us at the Sovereign Grand Commander’s table, and we would move if he desired. To my surprise, neither he nor anyone else at the table had a problem with us joining them. Long story short: We had a wonderful evening laughing, enjoying great food, and chatting with the Samiecs and the other eminent Masons. We were all truly brothers! The only one concerned that we had sat at that table was me.

The night ended and we said our goodbyes. I drove home feeling blessed that I had, in fact, met on the Level and parted upon the Square. A couple of weeks passed when I received a package in the mail from Supreme Council in Massachusetts. Sovereign Grand Commander Samiec himself sent me the book American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities by Ill. Mark A. Tabbert. Ill. Bro. Samiec inscribed these words inside: “To my fraternal Brother Russell—Freemasonry is a wonderful experience. Enjoy the journey!”

By Bro. Russell W. Dickson

Bro. Dickson is the Senior Deacon in St. Patrick’s Lodge 4 and remains at labor in Collabergh-Radium 859, both in New York. He is a Royal Arch Mason in Hiram Union Chapter 53, and is a 32° Scottish Rite Mason at the Valley of Schenectady, where he serves as Senior Warden of Sigma Council Princes of Jerusalem. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in journalism from the State University of New York at Albany, and has been a freelance journalist for more than twenty-five years. His work has been published internationally, in multiple languages, by both online and print news outlets.