I cannot believe that another year has passed and I am about to vacate the Oriental Chair which you entrusted to me. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve you this year. I know you will be in good hands next year and for many years to come. We are a strong Lodge. Strength comes not in raw numbers but in the dedication and character of our numbers. The dedication and character of the men in our Lodge is first rate.
As our Masonic year draws to a close I want you to ask yourself, what have you learned this year and from whom have you learned it? When we think of teachers we usually think of figures of authority, of wise men, religious leaders, philosophers and deep thinkers. Yet, teachers are all around us, in every form imaginable. As an adjunct professor I have learned much from my students. I have learned how to communicate in new ways when I am not getting through to them, how to act when I want them to emulate me, and what to do when I want to motivate them. As a parent, I have learned from my children how to be patient, how to love unconditionally, and how to discipline them without fear or violence (ok, maybe a little fear is involved). As a WM I have learned from my Brothers how to listen to opposing points of view with benevolence and understanding, how to admit a mistake with sincere humility and how to make a point with diplomacy. I have learned courtesy from the little old lady driving 15 mph in front of me on my way to work. I have learned gratitude from the man who asked me for a quarter on the subway, and I have learned pure joy from the smile of a child and the wagging tail of a dog happy to see me. Most of all, however, I have learned valuable lessons from my enemies. For my enemies exposed my basest faults, my deepest fears, and my most intemperate reactions. From them I have learned discipline, prudence and charitable judgment. Perhaps this is most compelling reason to love your enemies, for they are your greatest teas and a pure reflection of yourself.
Finally Brethren, I have used the phrase “Live True” as a closing for all of my messages this year. It is a reminder that you should be true to yourself as well as to others. We are taught from a young age not to lie. Most of us go through life trying to be honest with others. Yet, we find it perfectly acceptable to lie to ourselves. I’ll do that tomorrow; I’m not procrastinating I just need some down time; I’d exercise more but I’m too busy; I’m not really in bad shape I can eat that; I want to give more to charity but it’s been a tough year; etc., etc., etc. First and foremost, be honest with yourself. Own up to your shortcomings and do your best to improve. Lies may spare you some pain in the moment of telling but their effect over the course of your lifetime is devastating. Square the stone.
Good luck and Godspeed to all of you.
Worshipful Bro. Ralph