Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Happy Thanksgiving! The quote should remind us that thankfulness is an attitude - we can choose to be thankful, or we can choose to be envious of those who have more than we. For a piece that has gone around the net a few times on being thankful for things we often complain about, click on I am Grateful.
Tomorrow, especially, I will choose to be most grateful for the blessings I enjoy. I wish for you a happy day, with loved ones, and an appreciation for the wonderful opportunities we have in this fabulous country.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Bill of Rights decoupled religion from the state, in part because so many religions were steeped in an absolutist frame of mind – each convinced that it alone had a monopoly on the truth and therefore eager for the state to impose this truth on others. Often, the leaders and practitioners of absolutist religions were unable to perceive any middle ground or recognize that the truth might draw upon and embrace apparently contradictory doctrines.
The framers of the Bill of Rights had before them the example of
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
As I was sitting down, a hand rested on my shoulder and a man said, "It's nice to see you here, Grand Master." It was Brother Dave Seitz, who has been making retreats with the Jesuits for many years. You just never know when or where you'll run into a brother!
The silence and rest and reflection were most welcome this year. Now, of course, the trick is to keep that sense of reverence as I go back to my family, work and fraternity.
Thank you to all the Brothers who remembered me and my brothers in prayer over the weekend. I knew you were with me.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I first went on this retreat in 1987, and have missed maybe a handful of years since then. For me, it is a time of reflection, rest and renewal - something I'm especially looking forward to in this busy year.
The blog immediately below this is a story from a retreat in 1997. It is a very personal story for me, and you may not find it meaningful at all. If you do read it, however, I think you'll understand why I posted it and hope you will excuse my digression.
During this weekend, I will have many opportunities to pray for my brothers in the Craft. I certainly would appreciate it if you would remember me in your applications to Deity this weekend, as well.
In November, 1997, I made a silent retreat with the Jesuits.
The retreat started after supper on Thursday night and ended with supper Sunday night.
Saturday afternoon. I have had profound moments of sorrow this weekend when I think of Adam and our loss. This morning, I decided not to fight it any more, but to make Adam, his brief life and death, the focus of my retreat. I decided that, this afternoon, I would go for a walk and imagine that Adam was with me. I imagined him about four years old. Whether it was my imagination, or Adam’s spirit, I leave for you to decide. We had a nice walk.
We start up a hill and through the woods. I showed him deer tracks and bird tracks in the snow. Black berries hanging on a bush. Trees now big that were small ten years ago, when I first walked this path on retreat. Adam asked how I met Grandma and where does snow come from. I told him, but I said his Dad could do a better job explaining about the snow.
We walked for over a half hour. I told Adam that his mom might be alone and lonely and maybe he should go visit her. He told me that he could be with his mom in an instant. We should finish our walk and he’d go to her then. That sounded reasonable to me, so on we went.
We came to the wildlife pond and I told Adam how I’d watched a muskrat sit on the ice and eat some years ago. A huge “V” of geese flew overhead, and I told Adam that I’d seen geese swimming in the lake by my room this morning. We walked to the pheasant pens and I showed him ring-necked pheasants and Chinese pheasants and told him how I’d gone pheasant hunting with my dog
It was getting late, and I needed to hurry a bit to make the next session in the chapel. We headed for my room and Adam said, “Let’s go down to the lake and see if the geese are swimming there.” Well, they had just flown over us a few minutes before, so I didn’t think they’d be in the lake, but OK, let’s go. I think that Adam tricked me.
We walked down to the lake and, as I suspected, there were no geese. There was, however, a bald eagle soaring over the trees across the bay. The moment I saw the eagle, Adam was gone from me. He was with the eagle -- he was the eagle -- flying lazy circles over the lake. I watched him for about five minutes. He then flew over my head and disappeared behind the trees.
Later. I’ve thought a lot about my retreat. I have told this story many times. I felt such peace. I believe there are no coincidences. I believe that Adam took a walk with his Grandpa that afternoon. I thank him and God for making it possible.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Brother Mark has had a long association with Masonry dating back to starting as a DeMolay. His love for the craft, and for youth, led him to work with Minnesota DeMolay, for the benefit of all Masonry in Minnesota.
It is so very nice to be present when a good and humble Mason is recognized for the commitment to his principals.
Thank you, WM Matt Lundgren. You have many excellent brothers in your lodge to choose. Mark Hailer is one of the best.
The first through fourth graders told me that bullying is more than pushing, hitting, pinching and biting. Bullying is calling names, not letting someone join the game, being mean.
Through skits (the one shown is a bus ride), the students watch a bullying situation and then talk about how it can be different - often if just one student says that the bully is "not nice".
Most of the schools have posters around that say bullying will not be permitted. These posters did not mention the word "tolerance", but they did say a lot about "respect".
When students respect their differences, they practice tolerance, in the true Masonic sense of the word.
We can learn a lot from fourth graders ...
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We ended up most disappointed to have missed the dinner and entertainment. Potentate Jim Berg held this festive event at Circus Juventas, and the guests were thrilled during the meal by the young acrobats and circus performers who put on a great show.
Thank you, Osman Shriners, for the kind invitation and the great time!
DGM John Cook and I were pleased to greet these brave men, and their ladies who stayed back home, and thank them for their service. They each were most greatful for the $1000 scholarship, which was most helpful in continuing their education.
Thank you, veterans! We truly can never repay the debt we owe you.
This past Friday and Saturday, the progressive line of the Grand Lodge met for the bi-monthly corporate board meeting and, more significantly, the planning session for the upcoming year.
By tradition, the Deputy Grand Master plans and leads this retreat. RWB John Cook covered much ground with this session. Assignments for 2010, the future of the KidsID program and strengthening the committee structure were all on the agenda.
As Grand Master, it was a strange feeling to see next year's board come together - without me! It was strange to leave after the corporate board meeting and not be part of the planning session.
There is one thing I can say for sure: The Grand Lodge of Minnesota will be in good hands when, tradition prevailing, John Cook is elected Grand Master and the rest of the progressive line steps up in the ensuing year!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This is a very nice piece on a lodge that is bringing new life to Masonry in the south metro.
Congratulations to Worshipful Master Paul Harte and the brothers of Corinthian Lodge!
Nick Johnson, Sr. Warden of Corinthian and blogger "The Millennial Mason", has a blog about the story today, too. Click here for Nick's blog.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Last night, a truly humble servant of Masonry in Minnesota was the fifth Minnesotan in history to receive this high honor: Ill. Bro. Glenn Howard Liljegren.
It was such a thrill for me to listen as Glenn's brothers, family and the director of the Duluth Rite Care Clinic told stories of Glenn's tireless energy on behalf of Scottish Rite Masonry and the Rite Care Clinic. I was honored to be seated next to Glenn's bride of 55 years, Alice, at dinner.
Glenn's remarks after being invested with this honor by Sovereign Grand Inspector General Jerry Oliver were so heartwarming. He talked about how much others contributed to the Clinic! Typical of Glenn, I'm told.
It wasn't large money contributions or political office that resulted in Glenn's nomination. It was a lifetime of Masonry, of benefiting his craft, his community and his world, that merit this recognition.
Congratulations, Glenn and Alice. Well done, our brother!
I had another memorable evening last night when I attended the Duluth Valley of Scottish Rite Fall Dinner, Guest Night and Awards Night. Over 170 brothers and guests were piped into the dining hall where we were served a sumptuous meal prepared by Euclid Chapter 56 of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Daughters of the Nile, and served by the brothers of Euclid Lodge No. 198 and the Duluth Chapter of DeMolay. During dinner, we were entertained by Nancy Elaine Anderson at the piano.
I was thrilled to be present when Ill. Bro. Glenn Liljegren was presented with the Grand Cross Court of Honor by Sovereign Grand Inspector General Jerry Oliver. (See related blog today.)
I was just as thrilled to learn that 12 Scottish Rite Masons had brought 17 prospective members to see what Scottish Rite Masonry is all about. (That did not include my guest, "Grand Pilot" Carl Iliff, who will complete his Scottish Rite petition for degrees next week!)
This was my first trip back to Duluth after the memorial service for W.B. Tony Keane. I was so pleased to see that Candace was able to join us for the evening. While I know I cannot miss Tony like his family and his Duluth Brothers, I do miss him a lot.
Congratulations to the Duluth Valley of Scottish Rite for a great evening!
The problem: I needed to be at work yesterday, as I had a pretty full court calendar. I also needed to be in Duluth by 6:00 p.m. for the Scottish Rite Guest Night.
Can't be done? That's what I thought until Worshipful Master Carl Iliff, Hope Lodge No. 42 in Glencoe, stepped in and offered to fly me to Duluth. (That sort of sounds like a song title, doesn't it?)
With a strong south wind pushing us along on the way up, and hindering us on the way back, we flew to Duluth, where Roger Johnson and his wife picked us up and safely delivered us to the Scottish Rite Temple for the evening's festivities.
There is no Grand Lodge Officer designation for the Grand Pilot, but I'm thinking there should be! Thanks so much, Brother Carl!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
And we thank the volunteers of the Masonic Service Association, Hospital Visitor Program.
The Hospital Visitor Program is much more than merely "visitations" to the disabled and lonely patients in
Little things mean a lot. A friendly smile, a warm handclasp, an embrace and a kind word can do wonders for those who are lonely and depressed in a hospital or a nursing home.
Volunteers are at their stations every day in the
- to pay a comforting visit in the name of Freemasonry;
- to act as a "personal shopper" for bedridden patients;
- to purchase items for patients recommended by the Hospital staff, but not obtainable through regular hospital facilities.
- to assist in procuring "vital statistics" documents, such as birth or marriage certificates to provide notary public services, particularly for patients confined to their beds
- to arrange or furnish emergency transportation to a patient's home
- to secure clothing for a needy patient, sometimes for his family
- to counsel with a patient and his family, if it doesn't conflict with hospital procedures
- to help arrange religious, entertainment and recreational activities for all patents.
The representatives above can ALWAYS use another two or three volunteers. If you have the time and inclination to spend a day or so a month visiting our recovering servicemen and women and veterans, contact the Grand Lodge Office, who will put you in touch with the volunteer program.
Once again, Thank You, Veterans. We literally could not enjoy our Freedom without your service.
Worthy Grand Matron Sue Bay arranged for a dinner last night for officers of Eastern Star, the Grand Lodge, Job's Daughters and DeMolay. We had a lovely meal, and good company.
And, we laid the foundation for even more cooperation within the Masonic family.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Inteviewed was Danielle Luukonen, one of the 100 Waldon Scholar recipients for 2009.
Over the past three years, 500 returning service men and women have each received a scholarship in honor of General Ed Waldon, former commander of the Viking Divison (now the Red Bulls) of the Minnesota National Guard. General Waldon is also Most Worshipful Brother Waldon, having served as Grand Master of Minnesota Masons in 1992.
Each scholarship was in the amount of $1000. Half of the total of $500,000 over the past three years was contributed from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota through the Colonel Ladd Fund, and the other half from Minnesota Masonic Charities.
To view the story, click on Airmen Receive Scholarships.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Among other things, I mentioned lessons that I have learned from Scottish Rite Masonry, including a quote from a line I later spoke during the 26th Degree:
"We have sinned against Thee, O our Father, and have broken Thy commandments. We have forgotten mercy and practiced intolerance. We have judged our brother harshly, and condemned him unheard."
As I rehearse these lines, and when I recite them during the degree, I am reminded that no matter how hard we try, we all fall short of the mark. Masonry teaches that we receive into our ranks good men (not perfect men) and make them better.
My prayer, which frankly I should make more often than I do, is for the humility to realize I have much more to learn, and that I need to rely on the Grand Architect for His direction.
The photograph shows me holding the charter in a container given to Bloomington Lodge when Minnesota Lodge No. 224 merged with them. Bloomington Master Jay Weinblatt is handing the top hat given to Bloomington Lodge by the last Master of Minnesota Lodge to Minnehaha Master Matt Lundgren. Also assisting is District Representative Don Nolley.
It is a melancholy event when we lose a lodge, but the brothers of Bloomington and of Minnehaha have a great opportunity to become a premier lodge in West Metro. Good luck, brothers!