EGBERT WILLIAM ASHFORD JENKINSON 1891-1990
MORAL LESSON, SEPTEMBER 1970
At the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge; from Proceedings, Page 1970-401:
Law and Order
When I left my home in Methuen this morning I was armed with a short talk for the conclusion of this Grand Lodge meeting. It was of Mini length. But, owing to the prolonged meeting I have cut my talk in half, which makes it no more than a Bikini size address, which is as short as a dress or an address can be and still be respectable.
The lovable, often bewildered, good-man Charlie Brown would say today that happiness would be to live in a world of law and order. For with war in Vietnam, hijacking in the skies and on the highways of the United States there is no happiness to be found in so much violence.
Charlie Brown would not mean by law and order the popular demand to crack down on violence on the college campuses of America with trigger-happy soldiers. He would say that happiness is living in a world where law has outlawed war. Order is a world at peace where all the Charlie Brown's could sit safely and quietly under the shade of their own kind of tree, knowing that no one came at him from the sky to defoliate the tree, or to blast him out of his seat.
But Charlie Brown is a realist and he knows that such happiness is still a long way off. So, he looks to the universe in which our little planet whirls with such precision, and there is law and order. And what predictable orderliness! The stars, the planets, the constellations and the comets move on such a predictable time-table. At close hand is the predictable sunrise and sun-set; the waxing and waning of the moon; the predictable tides. A King cannot hold back the oncoming tide.
Yes, we like the time-mindedncss of nature. We respond to the predictable laws of the universe around us, by being time-minded persons.
We respond in our daily lives by the repetition of our chosen ways. Our daily round is a ritual in business and in pleasure, in Church and in our Masonic ritual.
Because we are governed by the law and order of the universe around us, our happiness, probably quite unconsciously, is in the exactness of the ritual of the Blue Lodge. We listen for exact words, and the Grand Lodge keeps the Blue Lodge officers on their toes as to words and actions through exacting Grand Lodge Lecturers.
So, my Brethren, if you are disturbed by violence over which we seem to have so little control, and if you wish to make your own life meaningful and responsive to the universe around us, don't be irked by repetitious ways; rejoice, be enthusiastic, get into the swing, be exact, be fussy house keepers of the Word and the furnishing of your life and of your Lodge.
For the sake of the record, here is the other half of what I had intended to say on June 10th, 1970, had time permitted my addressing the Grand Lodge.
But this is not all there is to life or to Masonry. Just when our happiness is at its full and the rhythm of life is at its best — for the poet was right when he said,
Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid.
We are forced to live in a world of the vacant chair
And silence against which we dare not cry
That loss is common, would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break."
Our Masonic ritual should teach us to be prepared, but we never are.
Our Masonic ritual should teach us that there is another side to the universe around us, another side to our planet than the return of daybreak, and the predictable seasons. There is another way in which our planet, with its majestic mountains, its beautiful undulating hills came into being. That other way is catastrophic change!
Every green thing that grows in soil or in sand is living by the decay and destruction of past life!
Every drop of gasoline we use, every bit of coal or drop of oil with which we run our modern civilization, all have a long, long history of catastrophic change in the life of nature.
As we leave the man made city canyons this summer for vacations by the sea or the mountains, we should thank God that this good earth we love came into being by dramatic changes as well as orderly evolution.
So, my Brethren, let us not cry out in our personal loss of the orderliness of each day, or at the restlessness of youth wanting to change our established ways as did the last knight of King Arthur's court:
"Ah, my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead —
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds."
This is human, but it is not good religion, and it is not good Masonry, cither in our personal lives, or in the midst of changing ways of the world around us.
Listen rather to the words of the mortally wounded King Arthur:
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."
Mark that word "yielding". It is not a mark of weakness, but of inevitability.
Happiness in a changing world, my Brethren, is in remembering that in the sublime degree of Master Mason we face up to the Lost Word, the Lost Life, and Masonry teaches us to transform irreparable losses into a glorious message of newness of life, as God's way with us and our world.
Listen, and absorb the whole eternal truth of the Masonic ritual of the Blue Lodge, my Brethren.