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We regularly receive e-mails which recount personal circumstances (just moved to a new area ~ still in college ~ starting a family ~ recently retired ~ and more) asking if the 'time is right' for that person to join.
The honest answer is 'the time is right when you're ready' but that may seem glib or uncaring. It is, though, the truth.
Sometimes the question really is
You've gotten this far in our website because (a) you're self-qualified to join and (b) you just aren't sure what you want to do. Common problem - and you can create all sorts of 'rationalizations' for not making the step forward. Are any of them real?
Here's my story:
I joined Freemasonry at the age of 22 while serving overseas with the US military. Although unplanned, the opportunity arose somewhat unanticipated. Joining then was - retrospectively - an absolutely tremendous decision. Since then, there have been SO many times when those who might have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance have been proven as friends. During the following months, membership in Scottish Rite and Shrine followed allowing more opportunities for friendship and fellowship with an ever-expanding circle of Masons. These were unique experiences, enhanced as military travels provided the chance to be a 'friend and brother' in a broadening geographical sphere.
Following these 'adventures', life became more mundane: I returned home where work and family demands were foremost. Although I had affiliated in a local lodge where I knew a lot of the fellows from my church, my Dad's bowling league, etc., there wasn't very much time to 'do Masonry', frankly. While I felt badly regularly missing meetings and not being involved in lodge activities, my Brethren were very understanding. When I'd run into someone around town and would begin an apology for my absence, they'd remind me that my Masonic obligation was quite specific: Masonry was to come AFTER any obligations I owed to my Creator, my country, my neighbor/family and - in fact - MYSELF! So when a lodge night came but I'd need to work overtime or needed to go to my parents' house in order to address some problem there, I could do so without feeling any angst. My Brothers were MORE than understanding.
A few years later I took a new job and moved quite a distance away. I'd drive by the local lodge hall regularly and contemplate attending a meeting there. One evening I saw a notice in the newspaper stating their stated (regular, monthly) meeting night and time. (Now I'd just check for a website but this was back in the days of the dinosaurs!) When the night arrived, I hopped in the car and drove downtown. Entering the lodge, I found something that I should have expected: the members there were welcoming, friendly and very much like the men I'd known pretty much all my life at the lodge I'd been in before.
One thing led to another and in the blink of an eye - just a few years - I was standing before the lodge as the Master. For some unfathomable reason, the members felt that I had the 'right stuff' to lead them and it was quite a ride. Anyone who's ever taken that position knows well that it's a learning experience like no other.
Through all this I realized that it wasn't just the three lodges that I had been involved in that were absolutely great! I'd met men everywhere who felt the same way about THEIR lodge. Just amazing....
Now I could continue this story in boring detail but you need to know these basic facts:
Despite this lovely tale, you're probably thinking that I've forgotten this page was supposed to provide some thoughts on when the 'right time' is to become a Mason.
Not true! If I had waited while I was overseas, I'd have missed knowing how things were done there and never have become a 'fully-engaged' participant in the community. I would have missed returning home to be with men who'd known me most of my life but who now were my Brother. And I'd have missed becoming part of my new home thinking that - someday - the time would be right to join.
The bottom line....
In nearly every lodge, at the end of the evening that a man becomes a Master Mason he is given the opportunity to say a few words. Most choose to do so and what they say is SO telling. When a man is 35, 40, or older (and I've attended degrees for men in their nineties even!) ALMOST UNIVERSALLY they'll say,
"I wish I had joined years ago!"
This is not something I'm making up: it's fact. Ask any Mason: they'll tell you exactly the same thing.
Someone wrote to ask, "How often do they really say that?". I know you'll think I'm making this up when I say about 80% of the time but it's really, honestly true. Think about it: four out of five people are saying it - publicly - and maybe the others are thinking it. That should tell you something.
Here's the other part to it all: if you join now what's the very worst thing that can/will happen?
Not too awfully bad, is it?
BUT if you DON'T proceed, you'll never know....
Food label-type warning: if you're having family problems, are in severe debt, or can't harness your emotions, Freemasonry is not a solution. If you aren't in control of your life, then you should concentrate on that. If your family is not supportive of your doing this or if you really and truly would rather spend your time partying with alcohol and drugs or playing D&D for 25 hours straight, this is certainly NOT the time for you to consider joining. In fact, if you're Involved in drugs or have an alcohol addiction, please get professional help and don't expect Freemasonry to solve things. Freemasonry is not designed for rehabilitation or social engineering.
(And in response to an e-mail from one of our readers, let's clarify: there's nothing wrong with a D&D or WOW marathon a couple of times a year, but if you're doing online gaming for multiple hours every day and just can't pull yourself away - losing sleep and separated from friends and family - well, you're missing out on life and really need to address that as a problem first.)
If, however, you're using 'I'm just not sure....' as an excuse then you really do owe it to yourself to get going. If you've gotten this far into this website not just 'poking around' but actually reading this stuff, you're serious about joining whether you're willing to admit it to yourself or not.
When will I call you 'Brother'? Let me know, ok?
Incidentally, those who found this page of interest might want to also look at the page titled "Why Join".
Just click on "Prince, the Search Dog" to find things on our site. He's on every page and he'll take you directly to our search form where you can see if we've written about whatever it is you're interested in. Prince has a great memory; he always remembers where things are!
This site and its contents are � (copyright) 1998-2014 by Edward L. King (Ed King). All rights reserved. All comments and opinions are mine personally.
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