Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy July 4th!

I ran across this true story recently and thought it would make an excellent July 4th post.  I originally posted this on 11/12/13 and it was called A Patriotic Moment Amongst Freemasons.   It's one of those rare and remarkable moments I've enjoyed during my travels.

I've been fortunate to have seen a lot of amazing things as a Freemason.  But I saw something this weekend at the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville that I'll never forget. 

We dedicated this reunion class to the Greatest Generation--that generation that fought the second World War.  As things often do, we found ourselves running way behind schedule on Saturday.  There wasn't a huge crowd in the Perceptory, but those who were there were no-so-patiently waiting for the class to arrive and the degree to begin--at that point, they'd been sitting and waiting for half an hour.  That's a long time to sit and wait.  The degree cast was milling around as they waited, and the Masons in the audience were talking and grumbling and checking their watches and phones for the time.

Suddenly, from somewhere high up in the seats, a single voice rang out.  Somebody was singing the National Anthem.  It was the Commander in Chief of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (IL), the Illustrious Brother Brian L. Pettice, 33.  A hush fell across the Perceptory, and everyone looked at each other--this wasn't part of the degree. Soon Brian's voice was joined by another, as everyone began to rise, remove their caps, and join in.  Somebody in the control room realized what was happening, and moments later a spotlight came on and illuminated the American flag beside the stage. 

My friend Don Goupil was standing beside me on the Perceptory floor singing with gusto in his deep baritone voice.  I'd have to admit, I've heard people mumble through the National Anthem hundreds of times at ballgames and other events, but that was the first time I've heard it sung with enthusiasm like it was on Saturday in a very long time--at least since 9/11.  By the end of the song, I had a knot in my throat, and perhaps a tear in my eye--and I'm sure I wasn't alone.  The applause afterwards was thunderous.

Many historians believe that the idea of the United States of America may have been born in a Lodge of Freemasons.  I'm not sure if the evidence proves that, but I can tell you without equivocation that the spirit in which America was born is still alive and well amongst Freemasons today.


Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Onwards And Upwards!

Last month, one of our members of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) reached a landmark--50 years as a member!  He hadn't been an active member for some years, but we wanted to present him with his pin and certificate during our Lodge meeting.  When he arrived, he had with him is 93-year-old mother.  She was confined to sitting.  This is an old Masonic Lodge.  Second story.  Three steep flights of stairs.  No elevator or chair lift.  What to do?

I suggested we make the presentation outside the Lodge so his mother could witness it.  However, the Brethren had other ideas.  They put her in a chair, and they carried her up those three flights of stairs so she could enjoy the presentation in the Lodge room.  One of those Masons that helped carry her was a Midnight Freemason--Greg Knott.  After the presentation, they carried her back down again.

I've seen many remarkable things during my time as a Freemason, but it never ceases to amaze me the extra mile Masons are willing to go.  It meant a lot to that 50-year-member to have his mom be there to see him receive that award.  And it meant a lot to mom to be able to enjoy that experience upstairs, in the Lodge room, with the Brethren of that Lodge.

I've seen a lot of Master Mason's raised, but that was a first.  I've ever seen a Master Mason's mother raised before!

~Todd E. Creason

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Getting Back To The Things That Matter

Going to be a long day--that's William J. Hussey in black and Sean McBride in red.
"Of course we have world famous author Todd E. Creason here today!  His books are in the Smithsonian.  They use them as doorstops in the men's room."

~William J. Hussey
MEGHP of Illinois

Back in May I said I was going to make a decision about what to do with this blog in the next few days.  Here it is July and I haven't done a thing with it.  Like so many things in my life lately, I didn't get to it.  It's because I have too many projects going.  In fact, my good friend William J. Hussey has been calling me the "George Jones of Freemasonry" this last year because I skip out on events far too often.

There's only so many hours in the day, and not nearly enough hours to do all the things I've promised I'm going to do.  So I've spent a little time this last week pondering this problem and what to do about it.  In fact it was William J. Hussey (aka the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Illinois) that gave me that answer on Saturday when we attended an event together.  It was a very long event, and when it came time for Bill Hussey to get up and make a few remarks, it was only minutes before the room was filled with laughter.  It was a much needed break.

First thing Hussey did as MEGHP--try to take my dues card!
One thing he always says when he speaks is that we often forget one of the most important aspects of Freemasonry--fun!  It made me realize I'm so busy in my free time being a Freemason, that I'm not having as much fun doing it as I used to.  And sadly, this lack of fun has slowly sapped some of the enthusiasm I've had for the Fraternity.  I realized it was time to get back to basics--back to the things that are important.

So when I got home, I pulled out my calendar, and I slashed and burned.  It's time to get back to the things I really enjoy about Freemasonry.  That's being an active member of my two Lodges.  That's enjoying the Scottish Rite reunions spring and fall.  That's spending time with my friends in Lodge meetings.  And that's writing (and writing, and writing, and writing) about this fantastic thing I'm involved in--Freemasonry.

So this blog is going to be focused on the lighter side.  It will be a little less research based, and a lot more personal perspective.  And don't worry, you'll still find me regularly on the Midnight Freemasons blog as well.

So as I always say to my family when we get in the car . . . here we go on another one of our adventures!

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Changes . . .

I've enjoy the last three months off . . . I can't believe people are still reading the "From Labor To Refreshment" blog considering I haven't posted anything new since the end of February--but you are!

A lot has happened since I've gone on break--I've written some great pieces on the Midnight Freemasons blog.  I've done a little traveling.  Got a puppy.  Was asked to officiate a wedding.  I've started a new writing project.  I was made a Fellow in the Missouri Lodge of Research.  I was even interviewed in a film!  And that's not all of it--those are just the highlights.  Part of the reason I took this break was because there was so much on my calendar I just couldn't keep up with everything. 

Now that I'm caught up, I'm going to be making a decision about this blog.  I'm either going to scrap it (in which case it will vanish), or I'm going to rework it into something very, very different (no longer a Masonic blog).  I do my Masonic writing on the Midnight Freemasons now and in my other published articles, so I'm not sure I really need this blog anymore.  Either way, that decision and those changes will take place over the Memorial Day 2015 weekend.

I case this vanishes, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your continued support since about 2006, and I hope you'll continue to visit me on the Midnight Freemasons.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Todd E. Creason
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