When a sculptor chooses a stone for his work, he looks for one which has within it the innate beauty and perfection that he needs. He sees the finished product within the stone and removes that material which is not part of his final design. In masonry a potential candidate for admission brings himself and his desire to become a mason to the attention of a lodge. The lodge, knowing that he is a rough ashlar, tries to make certain that this rough ashlar has no flaws or imperfections within it that could mar the making of a perfect ashlar. It is frequently said that masonry takes a good man and makes him better; we take rough ashlars and try to make them perfect. During the initiation, passing and raising of the candidate much of the roughness is smoothed but any flaws within the stone may still be hidden. It may be that those imperfections do not become evident until many years after an individual has risen to the sublime degree of a master mason.
This possibility is shown in the poem “My Ashlar” by George H. Free from the booklet Some Masonic Poems for the use of Iowa Masons.
O, Master Builder, here I bring
This ashlar as my offering-
This block entrusted to my care-
O, try it by thy faultless square.
Prove Thou the stone which I have brought,
Judge Thou the task my hands have wrought-
My hands unskilled! Ah, much I fear
Their work imperfect shall appear.
See, Master, here were corners rough
Which marred the stone, so stubborn, tough,
They long withstood my gables blow;
What toil they cost, Thou mayest know.
My zeal I own did often swoon
Ere from the ashlar they were hewn;
(Ah, vice and habit, conquered now,
With agony you wrung my brow.)
Crushed by the load of guilt I bear,
O, Master look on my despair,
For where was drawn Thy fair design
My plan appears in many a line.
Hot tear, alas, cannot efface
The flaws which speak of my disgrace:
Too late the mischief to undo,
My ashlar I submit to you.
O, Master, grant this boon to me;
Unworthy though my stone may be,
Cast it not utterly away,
But let it rest beside the way
Where its grave flaws may warning be
To him who follows after me.
If he thereby my faults may shun,
I’ll feel some grain of worth I’ve won.
But a mason is not an inanimate stone which cannot grow; he is a human, made of flesh and blood, who is striving not only to survive in his environment but to make sense of and to enrich his existence. His very soul requires him to make changes and adjustments in himself and in his environment to meet his need for happiness. Each and every individual, in his own way, attempts to grow to his level of greatest potential. Maslow, an educator and psychologist calls this self-actualization. The individual, therefore, has a tendency to correct any flaws and imperfections which come to the surface if he become aware of them and if they should in any way prevent him from realizing his goals. This process, according to Maslow, takes an individual a life-time. Some stumble in their quest and some reach a plateau from which further growth seems to be impossible. Freemasonry has all the necessary tools and conditions to stimulate a brother to further intellectual and spiritual growth or to guide the wayward back onto his true path. One is what one is and at any particular point in time one cannot possibly be anything else. A good lodge with sensitive, charitable, understanding, tolerant, humanistic and dedicated members makes a large and long-term investment of time and energy into aiding the personal development and individual potential of each and every member of a lodge. Instead of being perplexed, annoyed or ‘turned off’ , others can and ought to take all aspects of his character and use them to the benefit of everyone.
This process requires a great deal of effort, patience and perseverance as time and circumstance of one’s interaction with his social and physical environment may demonstrate unexpected character traits.
The Charge to the Wardens in the Investiture of Officers states,
“…suffice it to mention that what you find praiseworthy in others, it is expected you will carefully imitate, and what in them may to you have appeared defective, you will in yourselves amend.”
George Jendyk, Pembina Lodge #126
via Magna Borealis Lux, GRA, Edmonton, Alberta
Shared by W.Bro. Ron Merk Vancouver & Quadra #2 GL of B.C & and Yukon