Dropping Anchor

The third lecture of the Master Mason degree rapid-fires a lot of symbolism at a candidate, and while all of it is useful, to me some of it comes across as a bit generic. And, in fact, much of the symbolism of this lecture is found across multiple religions and philosophies, and isn’t Freemason-specific in the least.

Two of these symbols are Noah’s Ark and the Anchor. In our lecture it states:

The Anchor and Ark are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well spent life. They are emblematical of that divine ark which safely wafts us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary shall find rest.

When the voice in your head tells you to build a big damn boat, you are someone who counts on hope. When the worst realization of those voice begins to manifest, and your boat is the only thing keeping you and your family alive, the hope doesn’t stop there. It triple downs. The Ark is a symbol of trust in the Divine and in a divine plan. Trust that leading a good life will lead to great reward.

I have never seen a depiction of Noah’s ark that included a sail. I have never seen the ark depicted with oars. In no description of Noah’s Ark is there any indication of a way to steer the thing, nor any way to speed it up. Presumably God would steer it, through wind and current, to dry land.

But what it did seem to have, according to our symbolism, was an anchor. Why?

An anchor can be used to slow a boat down. It can even be used to turn a boat around 180 degrees in a pinch, but if we’re going through all the trouble to let the Lord take the wheel, can’t we trust God to not let our boat float away while we’re unloading the animals?

While the Ark represents one’s faith in the Great Architect’s Designs and plan, the Anchor is a symbol for faith in oneself, and God’s trust in us. He can point us in the direction we need to go, and He can get us to where we need to be, but what keeps us grounded when we get there? What keeps us from floating away again?

It is, I think, great advice to let go of our need for control, and let the Universe take us to where we need to be. But when we get there we must ask what do we need to keep us here? What support, or physical or emotional maintenance do we need to drop anchor and keep us in our promised land?

It’s not the seeds, it’s the dirt, Stupid.

It’s Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere of the third rock from the Sun and my car is covered in buds from the slowly emerging leaves from the trees. Soon enough I’ll get those little maroon caterpillar-looking things all over my car, followed by the little helicopter seedlings all over my car, followed by the fluffy seedlings from the cottonwood trees all over my car.

It’s not a great time for cars, really…

It’s not just my car, of course. They get all over my driveway, my roof, my front yard, and in my gutters. And oddly enough, this all reminds me of leadership and a growing lodge, because there’s not a single seedling that has taken root and sprouted on my car. Nor has a single tree sprouted from my roof.

My yard is a hard-soiled mess of a thing where only grass, clover, and dandelions are hardy enough to survive. While the occasional baby elm makes an attempt to be born, it is quickly pulled or mowed over, but for the most part the seedlings bounce off the ground and blow away or rot.

But those gutters… After collecting an entire Autumn’s worth of leaves and Spring’s worth of decaying buds and rain water, my house’s gutters are more fertile than ancient Mesopotamia and as Summer arrives, a forest of greenery has sprung up. Hundreds, if not thousands of little baby trees ready to crush my house if I let them.

How does this relate to lodge leadership? Because it’s a reminder that growth doesn’t depend very much on the seeds that fall, but the soil and dirt they fall into. In lodge ideas can be a dime a dozen. Ideas for fundraisers, for get-togethers, for lodge initiatives, etc. can be pretty common if you’ve got a creative or dedicated group of brothers. But like the helicopter seeds that fall from my trees every year, if these ideas are met with an unyielding resistance or constant opposition, then like seeds bouncing off the hard ground or carried away by strong winds, those ideas are worthless, no matter how many of them there may be.

So, what are you doing to ensure that your lodge is a fertile, healthy soil in which good ideas can take root?

Take a look at our past post on The G-Men and pay particular attention to the four personality types you don’t want in lodge. People who never lift a finger to help, or those who cool any new ideas because they’re resistant to change or have some past beef with Freemasonry, all harden the soil of a lodge. Those who nitpick, or argue just for the sake of arguing and the constantly blowing crosswind. Together they will ensure nothing new takes root and grows in your lodge until there comes a time where the only think left of your once-thriving lodge will be an empty dirt lot.

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