The 50 Year Mason

The following article was contributed by the sitting Master of Richland Lodge , W∴B∴ Patrick Zuniga –

When my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, I remember thinking how lucky I was to be in attendance that day. I had similar feelings when M∴W∴B∴ Bruce Vesper, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington announced earlier this year that he would be holding a celebration to mark his 50th year in Masonry, and that everyone was invited!

M∴W∴B∴ Bruce E. Vesper, P.G.M. Grand Lodge of Washington

Now I’ve known M∴W∴B∴ Bruce since the outset of my Masonic journey, during which time he has regularly provided myself and other Masons in the district with excellent advice and unique perspectives. There was no question about my attendance, but when I learned there would be a prime rib dinner followed by the opportunity to enjoy Lodge with my brothers afterwards, my motivation immediately progressed from high to “most high!” 😉

While listening to this Past Grand Master deliver his opening remarks, the sheer magnitude of the event began to set in. The table where I was seated represented a fascinating cross section of Masonic experience within my own Lodge, including the Chaplain, the Senior Warden, our Secretary and his wonderful wife, as well as our newest Entered Apprentice. We were all intently focused on “the 50 year Mason” a man who had participated in much of my own degree work at Richland Lodge, just as he has done for Lodges throughout the District.

The mentoring of this man and Mason has never been that of a seasoned veteran reflecting on self satisfied experience or personal success, and this evening was to be no different.

Quite the contrary, M∴W∴B∴ Bruce offered advice suited to all in anticipation of similar celebrations when the time comes, be it 10, 25, or 50 years in the making.

Although the insights of the evening reflected upon 50 years of experience within the Masonic Fraternity I am fairly confident that most Masons, despite their tenure, could eventually offer similar insights on their own journeys in Masonry.

Reflections of Further Light

Reflecting on the evening inspired me to share the following listener’s interpretation of the experience.

Recognizing Pre-Harmony Context:  Even Masons must make a concerted effort to consistently “meet on the level.” Artfully employing our Craft in continually transitioning away from exchanges that may engender less than harmonious outcomes provides a context for harmony which is the strength of all institutions, especially our own. During the gathering which included individual members in the District, friends and family, Grand line officers from the Grand Lodge of Washington, and several members of Prince Hall Freemasonry, the evidence of this “pre-harmony context” having been established was easily recognizable in the atmosphere of unity.

Unity and Harmony: Masons such as M∴W∴B∴ Bruce are often active in several Lodges. The willingness to visit other Lodges and extend vulnerability and trust to other Masons helps build unity. Although unity does not always result in harmony, consistent participation and effective partnerships can help achieve mutual objectives and is more likely to result in an improvement in unity and harmony.

Importance of Youth: One of our goals in the current Lodge year is to identify ways to build a more robust organization for the youth. M∴W∴B∴ Bruce continually advocates for these groups. In our district, we are privileged to have watched DeMolay become more active. Job’s Daughters and Rainbow Girls have also provided additional activities for the youth. 

Travel Often: Masons seem to travel often. What I mean by this is that they are no strangers to other Lodges and often know other Masons throughout the state (and in some cases throughout the Nation and World) through their Masonic activities. To pursue further Light it’s sometimes necessary to change locations, experience, and consider other views. It has been my observation that Masons like M∴W∴B∴ Bruce often display this type of Masonic behavior.

Importance of Availability: To maintain the ability to carry out degrees, consistency in Lodges, and accomplish goals, being available is essential. Although the memory work can be a challenge, the more roles a Mason can assume at Lodge, the more efficient that Lodge will become. At Richland Lodge, we are fortunate to have several Master Masons who can assume roles as needed based on availability.

Advice and Improvement:  M∴W∴B∴ Bruce and others like him make themselves available to answer queries and offer some of the best advice to younger Masons. When I first became a Mason, I sometimes heard this advice as criticism rather than encouragement. It was only through my consistent attendance at Lodge, asking questions, and engaging in conversations which were at times uncomfortable, was I able to recognize the true nature of the advice; improvement through confident practice and focused improvement.

Be Kind and Generous: As I listened to M∴W∴B∴ Bruce that evening, and watched other Masons interact with him and one another, the true nature of this extraordinary occasion began to emerge more clearly, and could be summed up simply as “Do good unto all.”

While a portion of the evening may have been focused developing vitality through Masonic youth organizations, I would encourage each of us to take a few moments and reflect with gratitude on the the many Masons who have contributed to further Light in Masonry by consistently striving to improve the fraternal experience through wisdom gained in shared experiences.

Fraternally, W∴B∴ Patrick Zuniga