Thursday, November 15, 2018

What Are You Trying To Grow?

"Nobody is too busy . . . it's just a matter of priorities."

There's few things in life that challenge me more than my schedule.  I'm not alone.  I know many people with that same issue.  I've been doing better at it over the last several months using the bullet journal--I've talked about that a few times on here.  It has definitely shown me how my time is being spent--where I'm spending too much, and where I'm not spending enough.

I was talking to a friend of mine a couple weeks ago, and he said something interesting.  He gardens, and he spends a lot of time in his garden.  He said when it comes to gardening the key question is, what do you want to grow?  Once you decide what you want to grow, you figure out how much space you'll need, and how much time you're going to have to care for the garden--it's easy to plant a garden, it's far more difficult to tend it.  He said first time gardeners always make the same mistake--they plant a garden way larger than they have the time or the desire to tend. 

You have to make sure the plants you put in your garden .have everything they need to thrive, and watch for things that threaten their health.  It takes a lot of effort.  He pointed out that gardening isn't about just growing plants, it's about growing certain plants.  A big part of gardening is making sure the weeds don't take over.  Even the best gardener with the best garden have to watch out for the weeds.  If you're not paying close attention, or you take a few days off from the garden, those weeds can quickly threaten the plants you're trying to encourage.

He said he looks at time the same way.  What do I want to grow?

He wants enough time for his work so that he's not rushed all the time.  He wants time for his family.  He wants time for his church.  And he wants time for his garden.  That's his crop.  It's a very small garden, but that's all he grows in it, and he's able to meticulously maintain that garden.

He's cut his life down to just a few things that are most important to him.  Everything he does goes towards nurturing one of those goals.  He's careful about the weeds in that garden--the distractions that can suck the life out of the things he's trying to grow.  He said when he lets his guard down and those distractions take root he spends all his time weeding them out again, and has little time left to fertilize his crop.  I think we've all been there--trying to weed a garden that has gotten far too large to be manageable, as the things we value most wither on the vine. 

It's an inspired way to look at time.  Too many of us, myself included, want to try a grow a little bit of everything, and in the end, we have so many plants we're tending, we're lucky in the end if we find even a few tomatoes among the weeds that have taken over.

So the question is, what do you really want to grow?

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

An Evening At The Homer Masonic Temple

Greg Knott (current Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 and Eagle Scout) retires flags with local Boy Scouts outside Homer Lodge No. 199 as the community observes.
At our October Meeting, Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) decided to do something just a little bit different at their regularly stated meeting.  We decided to have a flag retirement ceremony instead of our standard lodge education presentation.  We collected a number of old flags that needed to be retired.  We invited several local lodges to join us along with the community.  We invited the Daughters of the American Revolution (they were interested in doing a flag retirement and were interested in seeing how it was done).  And we invited the local Boy Scouts--in fact, we invited them to perform the ceremony.  They'd never done that before, and did a fantastic job.

We had pizza, then held the ceremony in our parking lot.  The ceremony is solemn and very simple.  The U.S. Flag code about how flags should be properly retired is read.  The Pledge is recited.  A flag is displayed for one last time, is folded, and then retired on the brazier.  The rest of the flags are then retired without ceremony.

Boy Scouts perform Flag Retirement Ceremony
Lodge education doesn't necessarily have to be about Masonry.  The idea with education is to introduce our members to new ideas, and new experiences.  While the vast majority of our education involves some aspect of Masonry, some don't.  Many of our members had never seen a flag retirement before.  It also gave us an opportunity to teach our Boy Scouts something and demonstrate the ceremony for the DAR.  And it's always good when we can involve our community in an event with our Lodge.
Left to right:  Homer Lodge WM Darin Lahners and Ogden Lodge WM Greg Knott (coincidentally both are Midnight Freemasons along with the photographer who happens to be the Founder) prepare for the Flag Retirement Ceremony

It was a memorable night, and it was also very enjoyable for all of us who were involved.  After our guests left, we had our regularly stated meeting.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Deep Cleansing Breath . . .

"A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."  

~Proverbs 25:28

Robert Johnson wrote an excellent piece yesterday A Break From Politics on the Midnight Freemasons yesterday that I'd like to mirror here.  It's always great after a contentious election, when all the television ads are gone, the robocalls stop, the yard signs start coming down, and all the nasty bickering back and forth on social media ends for a brief moment as we figure out what the election meant.

Perhaps this is a good time to take a step back and look at the world we're living in--most especially how we as individuals interact with it.  We often complain about our society and our culture, but we don't do anything about it.  Our culture is an amalgamation of all its individuals, and if we want to change the culture, we have to start with the individuals that make up that society.  And that starts with what each of us decide what to do every day.  If we can't control our own actions, is it any wonder that we as a society won't be able to either?

I've taken some time lately to look at how I interact with the world, and also the influences on my daily life--the information and the influences I invite into my brain on a daily basis.  If you take the time to do this, I think you'll find that it is telling.  You may not like the pattern you see in yourself--and that's where it must begin.   If you don't reflect the values you believe in, then you don't really believe them.

I hope you'll take a little time and reflect on that.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Franklin's Virtues: In Conclusion

Over the last 13 weeks, From Labor To Refreshment has been running this series of Benjamin Franklin's virtues. Franklin was committed to improving himself, which is why he established this list of virtues, and developed a program with which he spent a week trying to work on each one individually. He repeated this exercise over and over again through his lifetime. 

Franklin would be the first to admit he never accomplished his goal of moral perfection, but he felt he benefited greatly from constantly working on it. 

I hope you've enjoyed the series, and that you got something from it.  Below you'll find links to each of the virtues, and Ben Franklin's definitions of each.  I hope you'll revisit them again and again.  If you want to learn more about Franklin's Virtues, there's a number of books on the subject including The Art of Virtue: Ben Franklin's Formula for Successful Living.  Perhaps, if you are so motivated, you might even try Franklin's exercise yourself.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues: The Introduction 



"Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."


"Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."


"Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."


"Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; Avoid trifling Conversation."


"Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."


"Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions."


"Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."


"Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."


"Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."


"Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation."


"Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."


"Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation."


"Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

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