Vol. XVII No. 11 — November 1939

Inside, Looking Out

Near the settlement of Moran, innorthwest Wyoming, stands a church built of logs. Only the cross atop makes it different, looked at from the outside, from any good-sized log cabin. Except for that it might be a tourist house, a tool house, a residence; a plain and simple structure built of peeled lodge pole pines.

But go inside. The wall behind the apse is cut away. A huge window of plain — not stained — glass frames the mighty Grand Teton and the Grand Teton range. Most beautiful of all mountains, these magnificent, austere, remote, ageless rock monsters are the stained glass window of this House of God. Their mauve shadows, their greys and browns, their saw-teeth cutting the blue above, or wreathed in cloud, or white with snow, as the seasons and the sunlight change, provide a never-ending pageant of glory for the worshippers of Him who made them. It is unthinkable that any man stand within this church, looking out at the most magnificent of God’s handiwork, without feeling a deep and humble reverence for such works of the Creator as are nowhere else in all the world.

The church is utterly different from the outside, looking in, to what it appears from the inside, looking out. . . .

From the outside Freemasonry in this country is two and a half million men, nearly sixteen thousand lodges, a large number of Homes, Hospitals, Orphanages, Sanitariums, Schools. It is composed of forty-nine grand lodges, grand masters, grand officers. It publishes Proceedings, legislates, conducts the business of the organization. From the outside, looking in, it appears much as any other group of men knit together by a common interest.

But from the inside, looking out. . . .

A past master of a certain lodge in the East, traveling in a far jurisdiction, was taken seriously ill — how ill he did not know, but his wife knew. She communicated with the home lodge. The home lodge told its tale to the grand secretary. The grand secretary wired the grand secretary of the far jurisdiction. That official wired the master of the lodge in the town in which the sick man was.

Less than twenty-four hours later the master and a committee had called upon the wife. Flowers had been sent the sick man. Money had been provided for immediate needs (this was not a charity case, and it was only a temporary shortage of funds which had to be relieved). For two weeks there was a daily visitor to the ill man. Then he died. Again the telegrams, and the local lodge conducted the funeral, and saw that the bereaved widow had a committee of ladies to accompany her and comfort her.

The point is not in the fraternal help, for that takes place everywhere and all the time, but in the speed with which Masonry acted. What it must have meant to a woman two thousand miles from home, friendless and without funds, can only be guessed.

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In Texas a lad was touring with a friend. He also was far from home. A sudden skid in a storm, a bad accident; the boy’s back was broken. Taken to the nearest hospital, he gave his name and address, and his family were notified. His father at once took a plane for Texas. But father was a Mason, and before he went, told an official of his grand lodge. In the town in which the lad lay in a hospital was a past grand master of Texas. The Grand Lodge official wired him. Long before father could get there, the past grand master had been to the hospital, sent flowers, comforted the injured boy, sat with him, encouraged him until his father could arrive. Small service? Imagine how the father felt when he knew that the great hand of the Fraternity had stretched forth to aid and comfort his boy; imagine too, what a profound effect it must have had upon the young man. Small service?

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To a master of a very large city lodge in session came an urgent appeal. Brother John Smith was in a hospital; an operation had left him weak; the hospital had no blood bank; blood transfusion was needed immediately. Could he do anything?

He could and did. It was his custom, prior to every Master Mason Degree, to speak for a few minutes upon the lessons and the meaning of that ceremony. Casting aside his prepared talk he told the lodge of the need. Fifteen brethren jumped to their feet to offer their blood. All fifteen immediately left the lodge, were tested as to their blood classification. Three typed with the patient. The transfusion was given, and the brother lived.

None of the fifteen knew the ill brother.

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It is three thousand miles and more from coast to coast. From New York came a frantic wire from a son to a father in San Francisco. He had been arrested. He was in custody. The offense with which he was charged was grave. He had no funds for bail, no knowledge of what lawyer to get.

The father, too, was without much money; he had no opportunity to fly East. But the wires grew hot with Masonic appeals. Through officials in New York, bail was arranged. A lawyer was retained. The young man was triumphantly acquitted. Every day through a month of anxiety a Mason in New York sent the frantic father a wire at his own expense, to allay all the anxiety he could. Asked why, his only answer was “I’m a father too, and this chap in San Francisco is a brother of the Ancient Craft.”

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Some men invest their money. Other speculate. Some do both. Those who speculate without any real knowledge of the stock market can be called any name you will and it will probably not be too strong. But “something for nothing” is a fundamental weakness in many characters. It was so with Brother Tom Brown. He went into the stock market. He was careful, and bought and sold well. He made money. He accumulated a nice little fortune — perhaps twenty thousand dollars, all from an initial investment of a thousand. Success went to his head. He mortgaged his home to buy more stocks. He pyramided. He was on the high road to wealth!

Suddenly a panic on the exchange. Stocks dropped. Brokers called for more margins. The little fortune began to disappear. Came a day when the brokers told him: “Must have five thousand more by noon, or we must sell you out.”

If carried out the sale meant loss of home as well as fortune. The speculator went to a brother of his lodge. He told his story.

The brother told him exactly what he thought: “You blankety blank fool!”

“I know it — don’t rub it in!” moaned the victim.

“I think you are a fool to worry. Come down to the bank with me.”

Wondering, the foolish one went with his brother to the bank. The brother had his safe deposit box brought. “Don’t know just what’s there, but imagine it’s enough. Help yourself. Put an I.O.U. card in the box. Bye -” and turned and left!

The almost paralyzed-with-surprise speculator took five thousand dollars in bonds and left his I.O.U. card as directed. He gave them to his broker, who kept them six months. Then the speculator managed to get out of the market with his original thousand only, and his skin. But the bonds were safe and were returned. The devoted brother who loaned them lost nothing. But he took the risk, because of mutual brotherhood. . . .

It is to be noted that the speculator never speculated again!

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Brother John Smith lost weight. He looked worried. He began to stay away from lodge. The master, a wise old Mason, called on Brother Smith to find out what the matter might be. And after a few questions, Brother Smith unburdened himself. He and his wife were not making it very well. A small quarrel had become large — now jealousy, suspicion, unhappiness, had taken the place of love and trust.

The master, an elderly man, did what a young man might not have dared. He made it his business to meet Mrs. Smith. He called with his wife, on a night when he had purposely arranged for Brother Smith to be absent Later he called alone. And because he is a tactful and gentle person, it was not long before Mrs. Smith told her side of the story.

Like many another such, a great quarrel had grown from a small beginning of no importance. The master was privately of the opinion that the lady was all wrong, and Brother Smith entirely in the right. But he had too much sense to say so! Instead, he arranged matters so that Mrs. Smith left her home to pay a visit to a relative in a distant state. Then he had his wife write to Mrs. Smith, and her accounts of how lonely Brother Smith seemed, and how he just stayed home and moped, and how much he missed her, did the trick. In a few weeks Mrs. Smith came home. The Smiths were each so pitifully glad to see the other that the silly quarrel was forgotten, a home saved, and happiness brought to two foolish people.

If the master had not taken the trouble; if he had not had “on foot and out of my way” in his heart, the ending might have been very different and — much sadder.

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In a certain wealthy lodge in a big city is a member who is very, very high in the councils of great surgeons; the sort of doctor who gets a thousand dollars for a consultation and ten thousand for an operation. He is just about the biggest man in his line in a thousand miles.

And his “line” is eyes.

Young Johnny Burns, son of Brother Burns of a small suburban lodge, was going blind. Every doctor told him there was no help; it was just one of those things. Brother Bums, of course, was wild with anxiety and his wife was heart-broken. At last someone suggested the great doctor. Brother Burns didn’t even consider it — he was a poor man and he had heard of the great doctor’s fees.

But the master, a simple minded man, thought that when one needed something, the way to get it was to go after it. He thought that if one didn’t have money enough in coin of the realm, maybe there were other kinds of money.

So he rushed in where angels feared to tread; he went to the wealthy lodge, met the great doctor and told his story. And because he told it well, and it was in a lodge, and because the busy and high-priced surgeon had a heart as well as skill, the boy was brought to him. He performed the necessary operation. He saved partial sight in one eye. His bill was duly rendered. It read:

To one operation, Burns. A master’s wages

Paid in full.

The doctor.

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Henry Ellery was tiler. He had been tiler forty years. In private life he was a crossing watchman, having lost a leg in a railroad accident. He had an invalid wife.

Came a day when he fell beneath a train, and this time he lost his life.

His widow made claim on the railroad. For various technical reasons it was not a valid claim. The railroad could, and did, prove negligence. Legally, the railroad owed his widow nothing. The best lawyer in the lodge handled the case, and got nowhere.

One brother in the lodge recalled that the Vice- President of that railroad had recently been raised in a lodge in a neighboring state. He took time off, drove five hundred miles, called on the vice-president and very simply told the story of the old man who had lost a leg in an accident, who had been a crossing watchman forty years, who was a brother of the Craft, and left an ailing widow.

The vice-president touched a button, looked at some papers brought to him, looked at his visitor.

“Legally she has no case. But there is a higher law. She will receive the same salary-her husband had, as long as she fives. Thanks for telling me about it.”

Suppose one brother had been “too busy” to take two days, drive a thousand miles there and back, to take a chance that a brother might hear an appeal that a legal department could not understand?

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One more tale: Young Brother Robinson, three years married; one little girl, two years old; a fair job, good prospects, but no savings, no insurance, and no relatives. His wife had no relatives. An automobile, a drunken driver, a terrific smash, and the little girl of two was fatherless and motherless. No one to take her; no one interested in her. An orphan’s home, the best she could look for.

The master of that lodge mourned that his grand lodge maintained no Childrens Home. Then he had an inspiration. He had the child brought to the lodge hall. He told the story in lodge. Then, calling to refreshment, he brought in the baby.

He made no appeal. He asked no aid. But within two days — long enough for brethren to talk it over with their wives — he had three offers; one, to give a home; one to pay expenses at a boarding school; and one, to adopt the child.

Little Miss Robinson is now ten years old. She kept her own name by the wish of her foster parents. Brotherhood and a clever master make a fine team!

In the log church near Moran, Wyoming, the “stained glass” of the window can only he seen from inside, looking out.

Those who see the Fraternity only from the outside, looking in, do not know the kindly face which is Freemasonry’s. . . .

The Masonic Service Association of North America