Clothes Make the Man and the Mason
Masonry in many respects is the same the world over. The language of symbols, the legend of signs, and the tenets are alike everywhere, so that a man may be recognized as a Mason as well in Africa as England, or in Germany as in America. The forms and ceremonies may differ, but the mystic language is unmistakable.
There is, however, a vast differences in the esteem, and appreciation of the fraternity in different countries. We have often been impressed with the high regard our English brethren have for their membership in the Craft. We may say what we will about the clothes not making the man. One who is careful of his dress on all occasions and will always present the very best appearance he can possess, a certain element of refinement that is certainly commendable, and that brother who is careful to appear at lodge meeting in appropriate dress shows an appreciation of the place and the people with whom he is to mingle that is praiseworthy. The man who went to the wedding feast not properly clad for the occasion was made to feel out of place.
The brother who goes into the lodge room in rough, untidy clothing can not but feel a kind of humiliation if all about him have made a careful toilet. Our English brethren carry their own aprons and gloves with proper official decorations and are proud to put them on, not in a haughty matter but in a commendable pride that they are one of the great family of Masons, and the apron is the outward symbol of that membership. This feeling shows an appreciation of the fraternity.
The question has been asked frequently, "Why are our meetings not better attended?" The trouble is largely a lack of appreciation of the lodge work. There is sufficient in the work of the lodge, the conferring of degrees to interest the thoughtful student. The ceremonies are like the spring flowers, ever fresh, beautiful and new. The flowers have been blooming ever since mother earth began her yield of luxuries, and yet we never tire of them. The morning glory and the daisy, the turnip and the violet are the same year after year, and we cherish and love them the same. And so with the work of the lodge-room, while the ceremonies, signs, symbols and legends are the same, yet there is a beauty about them or fragrance, a very newness, which if we will only look for, we will surely find.
We often fail to appreciate the social side of Freemasonry and that is a cause for lack of interest. Take the combination of lodge work, and lodge sociability, and you have elements of interest and pleasure that should be attractive to everyone.
The friendships of Masonry ought to be the very strongest and tenderest. They are formed within a charmed, mystical circle, that should have the golden thread of fidelity running all through it, and while the experience of many may not be as satisfactory as could be desired, yet there is so much that is pure and unselfish that we should be proud of the fraternal chain that binds us together.
Let us really appreciate the lodge, so that we will not only be glad to assist in the work, but still more ready to study and learn. We will come to the meetings with clean hands and pure hearts, and clad in a style, not only in keeping with the dignity of the place, but showing that we have a high regard for the work and for our fellow-members.
Originally published as "A Proper Appreciation" reprinted in The Canadian Craftsman, March 1898