My eminent Brothers,
My years coming up the line has truly produced a better Mason, and has given me some interesting insights
of our Craft as it exists in practice today, which has allowed me to learn much about myself. One lesson
that I’ve learned from observation and experience is that Masonry is not the bureaucracy, but Lodges tend
to get lost in the decorum and administration and forego the esoteric aspects of being a Master Mason.
Bureaucracy is a necessary evil, but it shouldn’t be the focus of our journey toward enlightenment; it
should be a facilitator, not an obstacle, of the construction of our spiritual buildings.
Another lesson that I want to highlight is Brotherly Love. Harmony is the strength of all societies, and it
doesn’t mean that we have to fall in line and agree with another Brother like sheep, but there has to be a
willingness to step back from a stance from time to time. Being adamant to the point of verbal and physical
altercations is the anti-thesis of so many Masonic lessons and has caused distrust, dismay, and disharmony
within our Lodge and other Lodges. We must focus on subduing our passions, and more importantly, we
must be willing to forgive those who trespassed against us. Indulging one’s ego and maintaining grudges
will cause our Lodge, and ultimately our Fraternity, to implode, leaving nothing for the men of the future.
Light in Masonry being our task, we are sent back to the West multiple times to be taught how to advance
towards the first light of day. This, as all lessons in Masonry, is an allegory, and the symbolic tools with
which we are provided via ritual, lectures, charges, education, catechism, schools, courses and mentoring
are not only for making ourselves better Masons, but making our Fraternity more viable for the future by
empowering each of us with the knowledge to improve ourselves, each other, and our Lodges.
When entrusted with the responsibilities of wearing an emblem of a position within the Lodge, we are
expected to be an example to the Lodge in certain regards and are rightfully held to a higher standard than
most other Brothers. Each seat has its own duties, its own lessons, its own prestige, and its own rewards.
As a Brother progresses through the Steward, Deacon, and Warden chairs to ultimately preside in the East,
he is given knowledge and experiences that will make him a strong leader and mentor of the Lodge. Each
seat is a piece of a larger puzzle; in a sense, a building block for our spiritual building.
Being an Officer is more than just wearing a jewel and apron, or getting the Past Master title and apron, or
dutifully showing up to every meeting. It is a trust that the Brethren bestow upon a small percentage of its
members, and in carrying out the tasks of each office a committed Officer aspires to leave the position and
the Lodge in a better position at the end of the year than at the beginning.
2011’s Officers did just that. The civil lawsuit against the Lodge is all but over. Years of neglect with the
building and landscape have been remedied. Fraternal relations between Pearl and some area Lodges have
never been better. The proficiency of the Officer line in Masonic law, ritual, and education is the envy of
the District. Long-term problems with the finances and building that were previously ignored have been
addressed and solutions are being implemented.
I couldn’t have done it without the Brothers you had the wisdom to elect to preside as Wardens, Secretary
and Treasurer this year, and the same goes for the Brothers who stepped up to the plate to fulfill the duties
of the appointed positions and committees. We were of one mind throughout the year, willing to put forth
any and all effort required to make our Lodge better, and I will reflect on this year and my previous years
as a Steward, Deacon, and Warden with great pride and an endless appreciation for the Brothers I’ve had
the privilege to interact with.
FROM THE EAST CONTINUED
No man is an island; we as individuals are the culmination of all of the experiences, good and bad, and
those experiences are due to the influential people in our lives; if any of them weren’t in my life at a given
point, I wouldn’t be the man I am today, so I need to express my gratitude toward certain Brothers who
mentored me, stood by me, and supported me in my various roles in and out of Lodge.
First, Ray Trahan, who was my FC and MM catechism instructor and later on, my ritual instructor; he
instilled a passion to become as proficient as I could be with our Degree work and Masonic law, which
later opened other doors for me. Also, during my lapse of faith, he spent hours talking with me about life
and philosophy and renewed a belief in myself and my deity.
Second, Ray Vance, who has been my friend and advisor, who urged me to participate with Masons outside
of our Lodge and who counseled and befriended me in my years as a Warden and during an unpleasant
time in my personal life. He spent numberless hours teaching me about our Fraternity and life and on some
occasions took flak for my mistakes.
Next up is James Mayo, who I can’t express enough appreciation to. He was elected to the Secretary
position out of the blue last year, and though having a tight cable-tow, accepted the arduous duties and took
to the role like a fish to water. He has been a pillar for me in and out of Lodge and the star player of this
year’s Officers. Our accomplishments certainly would not be possible without his undying commitment to
Pearl of the West and his steadfastness to the principles of our institution.
Scott Mitchell is another Brother who has caused me to want to become a better person. He always has a
smile and a kind word, even about the most contentious Brothers and the direst of situations. As Senior
Warden 2 years ago, he didn’t get the Worshipful Master position, yet he stood tall and got right back in
the line as Junior Deacon. Most men would’ve left in disgust, but he exhibited a maturity and resolve that
should be a lesson to us all, and he is now more motivated and proficient than ever.
Then there’s Richard Sikes, my right hand, who has been a Godsend to me, many other Brothers, and our
Lodge. He was my go-to guy all of this year, covering for me when my cable-tow became taut. He was
the ear I chewed on in my passionate moments and my Gibraltar in every storm I weathered. He has been
my best friend for half a decade, advising me in every aspect of my life and being a needed counterweight
to my over-enthusiasm. He has given me light in my darkest times, and has motivated me when I felt like
quitting, and is a model of a Mason that we should all endeavor to emulate.
Brothers Adam Semel, Don Venedam, and Matt Quinn have each been a boon to our Lodge, stepping up
to the plate whenever asked for any task, putting forth the work to learn the catechism and parts in the
Degrees, and being an extra set of hands for any and all labors. These men have proven to be the epitome
of Brotherly Love, the beacon of dedication to the Craft, and they are going to be the future leaders of our
Lodge and make us all proud one day to be members of Pearl of the West. They are fiercely loyal in all
aspects of their life and I am blessed to call them my friends and Brothers.
There are many other Brothers whom I should thank individually, such as Bob Matheson, Luke DeRoberts,
Chris Schlenker, Jim Ullery, Ed Street and Aaron Robertson for their contributions to my years as an
Officer and to the Lodge, for their friendship, and for their dedication to the principles of which we
pledge to conduct ourselves. All of the Brothers I’ve named and more give me hope for the future of our
Fraternity, and regardless of how small our numbers may get at the Lodge and state levels, the tenets of
Freemasonry will live on through these Brothers and into the future.
Worshipful Master, Pearl of the West
District Instructor, District 20