Chaplain Messages 2018
Chaplain’s Message January 2018 by Rick Rayfield
The Stranger Who Needs Our Help
One Earth Day long ago a game warden was putting fingerling trout into the Mad River with a crowd of us cheering him on. Someone had come right from church in his corduroy suit and tie, while most of us were wearing Earth Day T Shirts. The Mad River was its springtime swollen self. As the last of hundreds of baby trout eased out of the white pail, the game warden lost his grip in the current and the plastic bucket headed downstream. Too bad! Polluting the river on Earth Day when you are trying to help and honor it. Ain’t that life? Sometimes your best efforts turn to mud. (Tell me! I’m a baker.)
The game warden shook his head, and the crowd grimaced and looked away. The man in the corduroy suit jogged down the bank, and stepped out into the river a grabbed the bucket. Soaked up to his lapels, he smiled his way up the riverbank and handed the bucket back to the game warden.
We remind ourselves in prayer, as we close every lodge meeting, to assist a fellow mason as well as the stranger who needs our help. We should also remember that the stranger may be a neighbor, or a river, or a traveler. Songs and poems have been written that the stranger in our midst may be an angel or the Grand Architect in person (see Genesis 18 where Sarah laughs in God’s face). I disagree. The stranger is ALWAYS an angel or the Grand Architect, and your assistance will bless you. Even when the stranger seems unworthy, I try not to judge as I have often been proven mistaken.
Looking at the New Year ahead, and new years beyond, let us remember we are all strangers and also brothers and sisters. The divine is within us as much as beyond us, and we chose to ignore or partake in its blessing. So mote it be.
Chaplain’s Message February 2018 by Rick Rayfield
My daughter in middle school is learning about bias- the kind that comes to mind when we study racial prejudice. But to a guy at the tire shop bias refers to the direction of the threads of nylon and steel inside the rubber. When bias-ply tires were invented they were new technology- greatly improved ride and wear. Then radial-ply tires came along- a better bias. To a weaver or seamstress or carbon fiber fabricator, bias refers to the direction and type of fiber in a cloth, lending different kinds of strength and moldability and stretch. In science, we talk about experimenter bias and subject bias, where people’s expectations often control their beliefs more than the data in front of them. So bias comes in many forms, always something to be studied. Good or bad, bias is a tendency to operate a certain way.
I joked with my daughter that bi-ass means two butts. She got a smile from her teacher when she repeated it. But, bias is often two “buts”. Like this:
I would respect other religions, BUT AS they do not believe in the one true GOD, I doubt I can trust them and
I might trust those people, BUT AS they do not do unto me as I would do onto them, I doubt can I live with them.
Two of the greatest commandments are to love God and treat your neighbor as you would have them treat you. BUT, with BIAS we often turn those around. We judge whether other people treat the Grand Architect, and treat us, as we wish. How do we open our perception and see that a hospitable and compassionate culture is not opposed to a competitive and capitalistic culture? How do we decide in the complex cycles of gifts and resources who should be treating who well and when?
I got biases of all kinds. Some good, and some bad. All my biases can be improved by looking more closely and from different angles at the Trestleboards provided by the Grand Architect. I can then take away different lessons in receiving gifts graciously, and competing honorably.
Chaplain’s Message March 2018 by Rick Rayfield
A Granite Wave
The Dome of the Rock –the magnificent mosque in Jerusalem- was built in 691 CE (AD), and sits on the Temple Mount which was the site of King Solomon’s Temple (970 BCE, AK A BC), and rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity as the Second Temple/Herod’s Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Because of the many transformations of the site, considerable doubt exists about the origin of the stone used to build Solomon’s Temple. The map of Jerusalem shows Solomon’s Quarries (also known as Zedekiah’s Caves) under the Muslim Quarter just north-east of the Dome. Since the 19th century, the Grand Master of Kentucky and numerous Israeli Freemasons have held ceremonies in that underground quarry. They are convinced it is indeed the source of the limestone, the very foundation blocks and finished ashlars, used by Solomon’s workmen. Numerous interpretations of Biblical scripture are claimed to identify David’s palace, Solomon’s palace, the Temple wall, and the Temple itself. In the last 100 years, the extensive underground quarry and caves have been a much studied and much visited tourist attraction.
I have said before that the air we breathe contains molecules that were the breath of life for our ancient brethren. The same can be said for the water in the air, the water we drink, and the water in our bodies. We are surfers in the air and water of millions of years of history. Or we are the waves on which the ebb and flow of human history has progressed and regressed. The sand on the beaches we tread is mingled with sand eroded from the wall of King Solomon’s Temple. I bet my math on it.
In 1919, over two million gallons of molasses broke out of a huge tank in Boston and the wave of black sticky stock for making rum killed 21 people. Some people in the North End of Boston, near where our brethren met at the Green Dragon in Revolutionary times, say they can still smell the molasses on hot summer days. The breaths of Solomon’s workmen and Solomon himself are mingled with that sweet odor.
Brothers, we are passing through. We have King Solomon’s temple in our hearts and in our blood. Literally. We are at once temporary and historic, transient and eternal. Every good deed, every kind thought, every effort to raise the Temple of the Grand Architect participates in the Grand Design of a good Creation. Behold how Good and Great it is when brethren dwell together in Unity.
Chaplain’s Message April 2018 by Rick Rayfield
Those Darn deists
The 1976 Declaration of Independence of the United States of American, was penned by Thomas Jefferson and signed by 56 Founding Fathers, including John Hancock, Ben Franklin, and Sam and John Adams. In that Declaration, the signers refer to what we would call “deity” by five names, one time each: Laws of Nature, Nature’s God, Creator, Supreme Judge of the world, and divine Providence. Our Founding Father were not godless, but they clearly left the door wide open to personal faith in something beyond human existence. Our Founding Fathers are sometimes called deists or Deists. Freemasons also are sometimes called deists or Deists. The word “deo” in Latin means god, and if you capitalize it “Deo” you probably are referring to a particular “God” or a religious movement or religion. Various groups have claimed the name Deism for their religion. Freemasons have been accused of being Deists, that is a religion, which we are not, usually by fundamentalists who claim to be the true Christians. Freemasons can fairly be called, along with our Founding Fathers, as deists- that is a belief in some sort of deity. Freemasonry has been open to Christians including Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and anyone who is willing to make a simple statement of belief in something beyond simple existence. Lots of wiggle room there, but also the beauty of complexity. If someone calls you a Deist, or says Freemasons are deists, you might ask them if they mean with a capital or a lower case D. They might not know what you mean. Either way, you can have a discussion instead of an argument. A rose by any other name… The Grand Architect has many nicknames in many languages, and we each know him in similar and in different ways.
Chaplain’s Message May 2018 by Rick Rayfield