I hope that last month was a joyous one filled with happiness and cheer. The Holiday Season, although not over for everyone, is also a season wherein one might find things to have started to become depressing or perhaps a bit of a struggle. Often the month of January, named after Janus, the two-faced Roman deity of new beginnings, can be one of mixed emotions. As the deep dark of winter begins to set in, some people experience feelings of gloom, isolation, and possible depression. Much like the ancient Roman deity of Janus, who focused on the future and the past, people often focus on past errors, as well as their worries of the future; forgetting to focus on the joys of today. Hopefully, the Ma-sons of our jurisdiction can help to provide some relief to one-and-other in this time of “New Beginnings”, as we head into the New Year. Much like the Roman Deity, let us look into our own minds, as well as outwardly, to those around us when we practice the art of providing relief.
The book I am highlighting this month is Jordan Peterson’s, “12 Rules for Life”, in which the author touches on the idea of self-care while helping others. His second rule is: “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.” In this rule, the author describes the lengths which most people will go to when helping a loved one or even their pet. He then describes how those same people will often cut their own self-help short. Often in the thought process of: “I am good enough,” when in reality, they may still require that little extra medicine, help, or rest.
In Freemasonry there are three areas that I see requiring Relief. Firstly, the widows and orphans who require Relief from their discomforts. Secondly, your fellow Brethren may need Relief. And lastly, ourselves; we may need Relief. There is no dishonour in needing or asking for help, assistance, or relief.
Many Lodges offer some form of function to honour their Special Ladies in particular, as well as their Ladies in general. This is a wonderful idea. Some lodges do one step better and assign a pairing of a senior Brother, who knows the Spe-cial Lady, as well as a Younger Brother. Together these two Brethren will be in contact with her on a regular basis and they will provide assistance as best they can, such as helping her when the snow falls. Please continue this great work!
As far as Relief for your fellow Brethren, I would like to encourage everyone to reach out to your fellows. Check in on them and see how they are doing. Many Masons, out of pride or some other misguided emotion, will refrain from reaching out and seeking comfort or support. Maybe you might be the Brother who needs some relief. Pick up the phone, reach out to a Brother and seek some help. Please take the time to do this. The onset of seasonal depression can begin in the timeframe of late fall and can last until springtime. Please remember that you are surrounded by over 1,800 like-minded brethren, each of whom will be there to assist you, if and when you ask. It may be something as simple as going for a coffee, having a good chat, or going to visit a lodge together.
If you are a Brother who has work commitments, or more importantly, family commitments and you must miss the occasional meeting, I would encourage you to set a base number of times you will support your lodge and relieve those brethren who regularly attend. I am sure they would welcome your attendance with open arms.
If you happen to be a brother, who for one reason or another, has found himself in a situation of “long term non-attendance”, but you seek to return to lodge for a visit, and are unsure as to how to proceed, or you are worried about properly remembering the signs, tokens, or grips; please don't worry about these things. Reach out to the secretary and inform him of your situation. I am confident that the secretary and the Worshipful Master will be most gracious to welcome you back to the lodge.
I share with you a story I once heard about the Relief that the light and warmth of masonry can bring: (Please grant me some freedom with this story, as I cannot provide the quote of where I heard it).
“On a chilly winter's day, a lone Mason sat in solitude within the confines of his home. Despite a flickering log in the fireplace, the cold seemed to linger stubbornly. Suddenly, a distinctive knock echoed through the stillness, prompting the Mason to answer the door.
To his surprise, he was met by the Master of his lodge and a few brethren, standing there with warm smiles. Welcoming them inside, he inquired about the purpose of their unexpected visit. The brethren, concerned by his absence from recent meetings, explained that they had come to check on him.
As the visit unfolded, the brethren, before departing, each contributed a log to the fire. A realization dawned upon the Mason, as the flames danced higher and the warmth enveloped the room, in the collective glow of camaraderie, he understood the profound lesson that just as the fire grew brighter and warmer with each added log, so too did the fellowship of the brethren, enhance the shared warmth of their Masonic Journey
Thank you all for everything you do. Keep providing relief to your homes, lodges and loved ones.
Continue the work!
MW Bro. Jonas Cossette, Grand Master, 2023-24