Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Where Have All The Bowling Brothers Gone?

Last night, like every Tuesday night, I made my way to the lodge to spend the evening with my fellow brothers for some weekly fellowship. I have made these nights part of my weekly routine both for a time of relaxed socialization but also to learn as much as I can about Freemasonry from other lodge members. We are a small group but we enjoy the nights that allow us to get away from the daily grind.

Last night was a little different. Many of the usual attendees had other commitments which kept them from joining us but the handful of us that were there spent the evening preparing for the monthly meeting and exploring the building. As a new Mason, this was the first time I have been able to explore the history of the building (the space was previously occupied by a tenant).

One could spend hours examining all the architectural details of our old 1910’s lodge both on the exterior and interior of the upper floors. Having spent time in the building every week I can’t honestly say that I had previously stopped to appreciate the environment in which we meet. This week, by exploring the space in the basement, I really had to stop and think about all that surrounds us.

What was discovered in the basement was a bowling alley which was part of the original building plan. Still, for the most part, functional it is truly a tribute to a bygone era when the lodge was at the heart of the community where men would gather regularly for socialization and study. While this idea is still a weekly reality, the ideal has long since faded.

Personally, it is discoveries such as these that make me think about my own family history. Did my grandfather, who was a member of the lodge in the 1960’s, bowl in the basement? In general, how was his Masonic experience different from my own? What would he think about the small turnout that we have every week for fellowship?

Obviously, I don’t have the answers to any of these questions but it is something to think about and maybe we need to answer some of these questions for ourselves to reestablish the lodge as a central part of our community.

Fittingly one of my fellow brothers rolled an impressive strike on an untrue lane. And after resetting the pins, turning off the lights, and locking the door we ascended the staircase. I took my time with the climb, scanning the walls and taking in the details I had walked by numerous times without taking notice.

It was a fitting time to come to realize the history of the building and understand the real significance that this building and Masonry in general holds in my family’s own story. Last night epitomized the fact that if you take time to discover new places and new things, even in places you’ve been to many times before, you gain an appreciation for the value of all that surrounds us and all that makes us who we are. Whether traveling on Shabbat, going to the lodge, or going about your daily routine there is always something that brings your attention to the gifts that surround us if you simply take the time to notice them.