Chaplain 2009

Chaplain’s Messages 2009 Mad River Lodge #77

Chaplain’s Message January 2009  By Rick Rayfield

Acts Require Courage

“O my son! keep up prayer and enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and bear patiently that which befalls you; surely these acts require courage”.  Koran 31.17 (Luqman)

Times may be uncertain in 2009, 1300 years after the wise Luqman wrote the above admonition.   But we are rich, brothers, whatever our troubles.  We live at a time and place in history which is the envy of the world. We would be the envy of kings and pharaohs in the past.  Like Midas we are at risk of not realizing our true good fortune, and of harming ourselves with greed or complaining.

We must be brave, as the Sacred Book says.  It takes courage to keep our faith in ourselves and each other, and in our nation.  It takes courage to be patient, in the face of fear that we should overturn what we are no longer sure is wise.  If the course is good, we should stay on it.  Prayer and good fellowship cost little and yield much in courage and satisfaction.  May we all be blessed with goodness and courage in the New Year.  So mote it be.

Chaplain’s Message  March 2009  by Rick Rayfield

Be thou my vision Oh Lord of my heart…

Do you know this song?  If you heard the melody, you would doubtless recognize it. Here is the whole first verse:

Be Thou my Vision Oh Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Someone has said that good prayer is simply good thinking. That may be a thin definition. The idea is in this song though-  “Thou my best thought.”     So is the Masonic idea of  “Thy presence my light”.

“Be Thou My Vision” is older than Gregorian chants, dating back to about the year 600 CE.  The original words were originally Gaelic.  The melody is called Slane, after a hill in Ireland.    Legend has it that St Patrick, following his faith, lit a fire on Slane Hill to celebrate the Christian Easter.  He did this before the King lit the fire for the Druid Spring holiday. He dodged severe punishment for his faithful deed by impressing the King with his sincerity and belief on One True God, belief in whom brings everlasting life.  The words are meant to reflect St Patrick’s belief in Deity, Thou.  Patrick’s voice is precious in speaking directly to God. The song was written within a few decades after St Patrick’s life.

Freemasonry dates from the first Grand Lodge in England around 1720, 1200 years after Patrick.  But the truth and ideas of Freemasonry stretch back into the time and wisdom of the Ancients.  Happy St Patrick’s Day.

Chaplain’s Message April 2009  by Rick Rayfield
Sacred Days for Meeting

   Mad River Lodge #77 meets the first Tuesday of the month, September through June.  Some lodges meet on a full moon.   What is the sacred significance of our meeting day?

The seven day week is almost universal around the world, for millennia.  The only exception I could find was that the Roman Empire had an eight-day week for a while.  We of course have Old Testament scripture calling for six days or work and a day of rest, based on the creation story in Genesis. Many other religions and cultures seem to have settled on a seven day cycle due to the seven visible wandering heavenly bodies- Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.   Our “Tuesday” is Mardi, or Mars’ Day, in French, and many other cultures have named the day for the God of War. In our case, the Norse god of War  “Tyr” has morphed into Tuesday, just as Wotan has morphed to Wednesday.  I might suggest that we meet on Tuesdays for a contention of ideas in a spirit of brotherly love.

As you know, the names of the months have also varied with time and cultures.  Our names for January to December are related to gods, Caesars, pagan holidays, and numbers. In 1582, the calendar since the time of Julius Caesar (Julian calendar) was clearly off by about ten days since it had the wrong number of days per year.  The Earth year, circling the Sun, is about 365 ¼ days,  not just 365.  Pope Gregory ordered the calendar to skip ahead ten days. His adjustment made ten days in October disappear that year. Some countries took hundreds of years before adopting the Pope’s “new” calendar. In this case, the Church actually had science on its side, and the secular world lagged behind.

Perhaps the best message to draw from our various days, and week, and months, and leap seconds,  is that history is interesting, but in the end Truth will reign.  We are wise to seek truth. As we hear in the Middle Chamber, “Freemasonry has ever been the friend of education…”  A famous Rabbi was asked how we could cling to sacred scripture in the face of modern science.  His response was clear.  We are human beings. As science sees Creation with improved clarity, we must change our interpretation of the Scriptures, as we always have.  The truth is the truth, however imperfectly we pursue it, or on what day.


Chaplain’s Message October 2009  by Rick Rayfield

Hand to Back Recently

I saw the town drunk wobbling across the parking lot.  Then he fell over on the pavement.  People were there before me with cell phones calling for help. They either did not know first aid, or thought it unnecessary.  He had lost two cans of beer from his shabby backpack.  He was a mess, but unharmed. One of the people told me the drunk was on drugs.  He looked dingy, long unkempt hair, unshaved, smelling of booze, but talking more sky high than slurred. “I wanna go behind the white shed and leave this life.”  Was that visionary, or is the white shed in the cemetery a good place to sit drunk and watch the leaves change color?

My quick verbal exam suggested he was physically unharmed and together enough to get out of the traffic. He did not want a hand getting up.  But he needed it, and he fell right over. The second attempt at vertical only succeeded with a hand up, and then a hand to his back.  Hand to back, or he would have clearly tipped over again.

   He would not be steered, or commanded, but only firmly assisted.  He would not head for the safety of the grassy park. He was willing to head down the alley toward the white shed. After about twenty steps with my support he relaxed into the weeds along the alley.

I will never forget that weight on my hand at his back.  He did not want help, did not think he needed any, and would not let the help control him.

He was hungry and I was late for dinner. When I returned with a plate of food for him a bit later, the Troopers were helping him into their cruiser to await a niece who would drive him home.  He thanked me and shook my hand.

Town drunks are few, and a nuisance. But they can remind us of what we truly believe.  Hand to back.

Two nights later I portrayed Jubela and the one who secured me had a hand to my back as I owned up to MEKS.  Angry and caring in different ways.  The simple pressure of a human hand at your back can be powerful in many situations.  Hand to back.