Thursday, December 19, 2013

First Night At Eastern Star

Last night my wife and I attended our first Eastern Star meeting in Norristown. It was quite the interesting night for the two of us and one that was very different to was we are used to. Even for me, who is used to the rituals and structure of a Masonic meeting, what I witnessed last night was completely different in many ways.

 The most glaring difference is that of the clear religious overtones (not undertones). From different songs sung to other obvious symbols, it is a little contrary to the non-religious, agnostic may be a more appropriate term here, stance that is held regarding the consideration of members, although a belief in G-d is required to join. It leaves someone like myself, who is not Christian but who is very familiar with Christianity, a little confused as to the true direction.

However, like many things in this country that have significant Christian overtones, one needs to consider the spirit of the message rather than the references made. Additionally, when looking at many of the other aspects of the ritual and the general set up and structure of the meeting there are numerous Jewish references, symbols, and undercurrents in the order. Most glaringly is the fact that we face the East toward the temple mount and Jerusalem (this is a commonality found throughout Freemasonry).

Overall, what is more important in the fraternity is the fact that you are surrounded by, in this instance, many brothers and sisters who show genuine interest in who we are and take the time to talk with us, learn more about us, and, when needed, assist us in whatever way they can. What is all too often overlooked is the fact that family is the foundation to our fraternal organizations… a family with G-d as the head. This is the bond that we all have experienced and what strengthens our connection with one another and our belief in our own G-d (based on our individual faith).  

It was this connection with those around us that we experienced both before and after the meeting and all the rituals, routines, and references therein. It is the conversation and the light that you can see in their eyes, regardless of age, that slight glow that lets you know just how happy they are to meet you and to share this common connection with you. That is what is at the heart of chapter which makes all the references and overtones, for me, window dressing.