On The Level Podcast

Bringing Back The Chamber of Reflection: Interview with W:. Stephen Garcia

February 13, 2024 Christopher Burns Season 3 Episode 4
On The Level Podcast
Bringing Back The Chamber of Reflection: Interview with W:. Stephen Garcia
On The Level Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever held an object that carried a story so rich, it could fill an entire room with history and intrigue? Worshipful Steven Garcia Morales joins us wielding a tale about his Darth Vader gavel, a symbol of his unique journey as Worshipful Master and the broader enigma of Freemasonry. Our heartfelt discussion spans from his familial Masonic roots to the hidden symbols sprinkled throughout popular films, offering a rare glimpse into the personal and cinematic connections of the craft.

Navigating the sacred rites of Freemasonry, I share my own initiation story, which is framed by mentorship and tradition. As we weave through the meticulous preservation of rituals and the balancing act of academic life, we reveal the profound transformations that bind Masons like family. Challenges in performing these revered ceremonies emerge as a theme, with candid anecdotes illustrating both the pressures faced and the growth achieved within these hallowed halls.

As we close this episode, our thoughts turn to the mystique of the Chamber of Reflection and its debated revival. The conversation illuminates the legislative intricacies entwined in Masonic evolution and the profound importance of introspection on the Masonic path. We ponder the delicate equilibrium between innovation and tradition, contemplating the fraternity's future and the collective role in shaping it. Join us for a compelling exploration of the storied world of Freemasonry, where legacy and adaptation converge.

#podcast #Freemasonry #bluelodge

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Speaker 1:

We have to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. You've reached the internet's home for all things masonry. Join on the level podcasts as we plumb the depths of our ancient craft and try to unlock the mysteries, dispel the fallacies and utilize the teachings of freemasonry to unlock the greatness within each of us. Have you now? Wow? Welcome back to on the level podcast. Today we have a special, very special guest with us, a man who I served under as Worshipful Master I think I was maybe your junior.

Speaker 2:

Junior Wharton.

Speaker 1:

If I recall Worshipful Steven Garcia Morales. Welcome to the show.

Speaker 2:

Howdy howdy what's going on. By the way, that intro works out. That intro is it's part of my heart that I hold very dear.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's right, is it the Darth Vader bit?

Speaker 2:

Yes, the Darth Vader bit. You commented on this one a couple of podcasts ago the Wilhelm screen. Yes, not a lot of people know about the Wilhelm screen I learned about the Wilhelm screen several years ago and it's one of those things that, once you know about it, you hear it on a random movie and it just there's a Wilhelm screen right there.

Speaker 1:

It's great. Even my wife now she listens for it because if we're watching it before the movie she goes. Did you hear that? I'm like what? And she can find any Masonic symbol in any movie too. We were watching Tombstone. Did you ever see with Bel Kilmer?

Speaker 2:

No, I have not watched that one.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God, you have to watch Tombstone.

Speaker 2:

I'll add it to my list.

Speaker 1:

Well, one of the guys is just treating somebody randomly near the end of the movie who got shot, and he leans over and a Masonic necklace kind of falls out in the scene briefly for like a moment. My wife jumps up on the couch and she's screaming. I swear to God, I thought there was like a rat or something on the floor. Did you say it? I'm like what? I didn't see anything. She made me rewind it and freeze-frameed it and boom, she saw it.

Speaker 2:

I don't know who it is, but they put it some other places too. I think it was watching the Witcher, maybe, and the Square Encompasses was there just for a couple frames. How did I get there?

Speaker 1:

What's the point of that? I mean, it's a fantasy world. Why would the Freemasons have a lodge in a fantasy world? It doesn't make sense, I guess it's a fantasy thing. People think of secret societies, right now.

Speaker 2:

I love the interest Great.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, thank you, I'm going to see. Let me see if I can. I've never done this before. Share my screen because you talk about why it's close to your heart, and there it is. So this is what Worshipful Garcia looked like when he was master of Sarasota Lodge. This was in 2021. And you can see his gavel.

Speaker 2:

There is a Darth Vader head gavel courtesy of my lovely wife who gave me a surprise ad installation night.

Speaker 1:

She came down and the leather hat, the black leather hat with the Darth Vader gavel, and I think you had like a Death Star strike plate maybe.

Speaker 2:

There was a Death Star strike plate. It was probably sitting over there. It was a Death Star strike plate and Darth Vader gavel. And that's right. There is my lovely grandfather.

Speaker 1:

Your grandfather, okay, and he's from Puerto Rico.

Speaker 2:

Indeed, he is.

Speaker 1:

And is he still a member of the lodge that's your home lodge.

Speaker 2:

Yep, still a member of my home lodge, panama number two.

Speaker 1:

So I've seemed to remember your grandfather visiting on more than one occasion to Sarasota Lodge, and I feel like he had a red apron.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, our aprons over there are red. You know, we have our blue borders here, over there we have, ours are red.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he wore a red apron once, right.

Speaker 2:

Probably, I wouldn't doubt it.

Speaker 1:

Is this gold represented? Oh, that's a 50 year.

Speaker 2:

That's a 50 year.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay, I don't know if you can see the onions there. I didn't see that before. So, like people, don't get a little pin in your in the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico, they get a nice.

Speaker 2:

Well, to be honest, I don't know if that was, if that was the, you know the equivalent of the pin, or if he got that, you know, had that made. But yeah, his, his, his been. I honestly don't know how long he's been in there. He was, he was a master on 75.

Speaker 1:

So it's the year I was born.

Speaker 2:

So he's been. He's been a past master for 50 years. You know before that I don't know Almost 50 years.

Speaker 1:

Okay, not quite.

Speaker 2:

Almost 50 years.

Speaker 1:

I'm sorry 49 this year. Yes, we, we know, but that's so cool. And your, your homelodge is still his, also homelodge in Puerto Rico, right?

Speaker 2:

Yep.

Speaker 1:

So what's the name of that lodge?

Speaker 2:

Panama number two. Number two, Number two Now there's there's. There's some debate, there's some debate on that. It's a whole. It's a whole different. It's a whole conversation for another day about the short, the short one short story on it is technically that lodge was, was created first between the years of 1871 and 1884. There were some struggles with the state, or the government, so to speak, so several lodges had to close, reopen, close, reopen. So between 71 and 84, 1884, what now has number one, it's a dossier lodge number one. There's some debate on.

Speaker 1:

I believe that number one.

Speaker 2:

I swear to God you're saying so there's, there was a debate on whether who was going to take number one, because one of them they were both of them at the same time. One of them Panama had to close because of persecution. The OTA managed to stay afloat for a little bit longer, and so, you know, at some point someone relented and said, hey, we'll take number two, you guys take number one and we'll call it a day. But you know, there's still. There's always some, some debate.

Speaker 1:

But they're basically equally the same age.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So do you know what kind of persecution was happening at that time?

Speaker 2:

Oh, well, at that time it was, you know, the Spanish, uh uh, government was still in place back then. And then the 1880s Uh, the government, yeah it was, it was a Spanish colony. You know, the whole Spanish American war of 1898 or so, that that's when they changed hands. Uh, the island, change hands. But uh, back then, you know the between the church on this and then the state. Masons were not seen in a good light. Uh, you know, to the state, we were revolution revolutionaries, which you know, in their defense we were, uh uh, and the church, well, you know how that goes. Sometimes we're not, not, not, not looked upon very nicely. So, uh, there were some instances where if, if you know, someone died and they were, they were known to be masons the church would actually not allow them to be buried in in in church, uh, uh, plots. So you know it was, it was all fun and all fun days over there.

Speaker 1:

Talk about holding a grudge.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Geez, so much for the uh turning another cheek and loving your neighbor and all that good stuff.

Speaker 2:

It's a lot better nowadays. You know it's a lot better nowadays, so that's fascinating.

Speaker 1:

So a lot of people I was telling you before we recorded. I like to talk about things that seem obvious to masons because I've found that a lot of people reach out to these podcasts and YouTube videos because they're researching and they want to join the fraternity and they're trying to learn more. So or they're or they have joined. Like me, I didn't look at anything online until I became an inner apprentice and then I was like obsessively watching anything that had the words entered apprentice and I watched it or or listened, because I wanted to just learn more and consume and the lodge was only giving me like one hour a week, which wasn't satiating my insane desire for knowledge. So I do like to talk about things in case people do research. You can, in fact, be a member of lodges in different countries and you can have a home lodge in a different country and in the state of Florida, where we were together in Sarasota, that wasn't necessarily your home lodge, yet you were the master of that lodge and, in fact, our plural member there, correct?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so well, dual. So so it depends.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And plural. Plural is multiple lodges within the same jurisdiction. Dual is multiple jurisdictions, so it depends on whether your jurisdiction allows it.

Speaker 1:

So dual dual is one of them.

Speaker 2:

I believe there might be, but I don't know any, any to my knowledge right now. But yeah, you can be a member of multiple ground lodges, like I regularly. You know was an interpreter pass and raise over there and Puerto Rico and when was that.

Speaker 1:

When did you actually go through the degree?

Speaker 2:

2005. Well, let me, let me, let me clarify that. So my, my Masonic upbring, if you may, is a little weird. So my family on my mom's side, yeah, my family on my mom's side, has always been pretty in-deep with with Masonry. Masonry and Ottfellows kind of go hand in hand over there, so so it's always been a part of my life. You know, we were going to Masonic activities since I was a kid, you know, meeting all the brothers, you know I, I, I I can say you know they were all my uncles and aunts, because you know they were, they were, they were there, they were, they were part of the family.

Speaker 1:

That was kind of. I was married to a Hispanic woman for 13 years and I was surprised that they just call anybody aunt and uncle. Like you go to the grocery store and it's like oh, this and what. Like is that.

Speaker 2:

So it was. It was. It was in Puerto Rico, not so much. That will be probably more of a of a Central America kind of thing, but for me, being in in large functions and activities and they, all of them, were calling themselves brothers and sisters, that it was it was more prevalent to me in that in that regard.

Speaker 2:

So you come to 2005, when I'm turning 18, we are at a student recognition event at my what would become my home lodge, and I don't think I was 18 years yet, just probably about two weeks shy of that, and I a family, a close, close family, friend and member of that lodge, at the end of the of the event, goes where's your master? But we had been talking to him already because I will obviously wanted to join. I said who was your master in the? You know here present is, you know young man, mr Sifin Garcia, and he'll be petitioning here real soon. I'll be his, you know his designer and he kind of comes to me of God because it was a public kind of petitioning to the lodge. So so that was forced your hand.

Speaker 2:

I mean, it was very, very going to happen, but it was, like you know, he was very excited about it and you know this is a man that was very, very dear to me and my family, a very one of those, one of those guys that he would speak and even though he's always spoke very, very quietly, very slowly, it was it was one of those, those men that you everyone would stop and listen to what this guy is saying. Very prominent and well loved in the Masonic circles, a very well-loved creature as well, and so he was well respected on both Masonic circles, on the on the Methodist Church circles. This was a guy that that, when he spoke, you listened. So very, very proud to have had him as a mentor, and he just pretty much just pushed it right into a lodge right when you're starting up being 18, just wait until I was 18 and then, when it, he got you right in, you know, because it probably benefited his life so much.

Speaker 1:

He's like you know. Whenever you're involved in something good, you want to see other good people get the experience sooner than you got it, because you know you do all this dumb stuff when you're young. You're like man if only I got 12 when I was younger.

Speaker 2:

But and it took a little bit longer for me to, because I I write out a cop right out of high school I went on to college, to Florida, and so I got initiated I think it was probably about June or so and the month later I was out and over there and their preferences, and their preferences can go to to to watch the, the, the the state of meetings open in the EA so it is it is encouraged actually for the EA to be there.

Speaker 2:

The bylaws at that time I doubt they had changed much, since you needed to be in 12 meetings at the minimum before you got passed and told meetings for the minimum before you got ready. Over there over there is weekly meetings, so it takes about three months for me.

Speaker 2:

I went in and then I left. So for a whole year I was an EA here, not being able to go to pre-watch anywhere any lodges went back up to my first year, finished my. The rest of my 12 meetings got passed, left again for college, came back a year later, got raised and then I went at that at that point is five, six, seven. At that point is some of 2007.

Speaker 2:

When I come back to college I finally am able to go to a lodge and my lodge over there, over where I was studying, was Melbourne, melbourne, 143. Okay, they opened their doors to this young, this recently raised master major from Puerto Rico and made my debut there. This is going through meetings, going to helping them with degree work. That's where I started my ritual. My ritual practice is over there. I had 143.

Speaker 1:

In Melbourne.

Speaker 2:

In Melbourne Florida.

Speaker 1:

So why did you leave Puerto Rico? Was it a work college thing?

Speaker 2:

College yeah. I've been looking around and found a place that I wanted to be at and a good program, and I went for it.

Speaker 1:

And how do you wind up in Sarasota?

Speaker 2:

Work that point.

Speaker 1:

Ah, that was work.

Speaker 2:

That was work yeah.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so when did, at what point did you join Sarasota Lodge?

Speaker 2:

It took a little bit. I think I came over to Sarasota in 2010. Summer of 2010, and I think I don't think it was until maybe 2013 that I officially said, hey, I, you know, I kind of actually want to be a little bit more than helping with degrees. You know, we were, you know, going to the degrees, going to the meetings, always as a visitor, and it's like, yeah, I want to do, I want to actually do something here, and I think it was 2012 or 2013 where I finally petitioned to become a member of 147.

Speaker 1:

Well, I know that you are a ritualist yourself, as am I, and I think we are kind of stick together as ritualists and Marie, because we're weird that we spend so much time trying to perfect these things that no one cares about but us. You know we do it for people, I think you know for sure.

Speaker 1:

We do it because we want to make the best possible degree for the candidates coming through, and you want to do it the way that your forefathers did it, if not better. I think that's a true ritualist. You know, we're not in it because we like to hear ourselves talk generally. No, I know. A lot of people who are ritualists, I know are actually not very good with being in the limelight, which is odd. I find that I would agree with that, yeah.

Speaker 2:

We do it to try and express. If you're a good ritualist or you try to be, you try to convey the message to the candidates, To the candidate or to the brother going through the degree At least that's how I see it we might do it in several different degrees of success. You know I struggle quite a bit because I will speak too fast and have to remind myself that I'm benefit of someone else.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's like the top number one issue that any ritualist has is to slow it down, because even when you think you're slowing it down, you're really not. You're still going fast.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember who else did that mention that? We told me, you know, when you're going through the ritual, when you're talking to the candidate, make it so that you think you're really, really painfully slow. When you think you're painfully slow, you're actually going the normal pace. Yeah, so that's how you have to see it.

Speaker 1:

I mean I just want the eyeballs off of me. That's why I would go fast. I would be like I gotta get my car over, so they look at the other guy and I would just rush through my parts. But yeah, I found it a lot more calming to be able to breathe, because the anxiety, you know, you're not really breathing very well and then you're talking fast, and I've had, I had nights where I almost passed out because I've yet to see you fall flat on your face while doing the lecture, so I think you've done it.

Speaker 2:

You've done it well enough that you're in a good spot.

Speaker 1:

We've all had our bad nights. You know how it goes.

Speaker 1:

Those bad nights they feel you for years the bad night in your ritualist. So I mean I was there for you watching you come up the lines. In the later chairs obviously I saw you as junior Deakin and senior Deakin and master In the lodge. We were officers together for years until you became a master and then I had the honor to serve under you that year and you got some big things done in the lodge. You had like a complete remodel of the entire freaking dining hall done in your year. You had moved some of the inner lot won't say what, but there are certain things that are placed in certain ways in Puerto Rico that traditionally aren't in American lodges and we mixed it up in your year and that was really pretty cool, I think Didn't break any rules. I don't think it was more of a preference thing.

Speaker 2:

It was a. It was a. It was an etiquette preference. I think yeah we kind of we kind of skirt it. So, or rather, I'll admit that I didn't read that part of the etiquette book.

Speaker 1:

The etiquette book is tricky because everyone looks to the digest for answers. But the etiquette book is adopted practices and we say in our obligation that you know we're going to defend free masonry and it's adopted traditions and stuff like that. So you got to stick to that too. Unfortunately, yeah, but no regrets, no regrets. That was our post COVID year. I think you had more entered apprentices your year than the lodge probably has ever seen or may may ever see in the future for a while, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I don't think we had busy. I don't think we had any. I don't think we had any, maybe one or two, last amazing degrees, I think. I think they all went. Yeah, they all went to the old ones and worship for Robert.

Speaker 1:

I don't think I had any, maybe one you initiated 24 entered apprentices your year and that's that we really. I think you stop ritual work near the end of the year, so you could have done more probably. Did I stop a little there. That's a very, very end.

Speaker 2:

We, we, you know we had a bad night. Well, but I think that was yeah, that was my night. I think we did not stop rituals after that. We might have done more to the grease after that that night. I think it was somewhere in November.

Speaker 1:

I just don't know if we did any more in an apprentice degrees because it was late in the year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but for the, for the, for the listeners and, I guess, watchers in this one. So that was. That was a night in November, I believe, and I kind of lost it. So to a little bit of a background it was. It was a little bit of a rough night. I believe there were rickshaw.

Speaker 1:

It was just disastrous night.

Speaker 2:

It was a little bit of a disastrous night. There were there were a couple of the guys there. They went to the degree. That has been the first, their first degree, I believe.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

So so you know, if your first degree, you're nervous, your state remains, you know, not mistakes. That would be visible for the candidates. The candidates don't know what's going on, so to them it's going perfectly well. For for the people in the sidelines, Well, we know it is real.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, walking the wrong way and things you know, things are clearly visibly wrong.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

But you know that, that that kind of stuff happens sometimes, I think it does, and that's one of the things that.

Speaker 2:

That's that's why I wanted to talk about it, because that's one of the things that that being on the sideline, being the master or past master at that point, being past masters currently and being the master at that point we forget that being in the degree is stressful, it's you can make mistakes, especially if you're a first time. So those things are what we forget sometimes. And what happened that night? You know where there was an attack, mistakes, and I think somewhere in the middle or the after the degree, before the lecture. I believe that you take a little break there. I think I called you and was in Wolberg, yeah, yeah, at that time, my senior and junior ward.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

To the office.

Speaker 1:

Yes, on my defense.

Speaker 2:

We went to the office. I didn't explode in front of everyone and I think I mentioned like this is, this is a disaster we're not going to make. We're going to not going to do any more degrees this year because I don't want this to be repeated. It was, it was wrong. It was I should not have exploded that way. I should have probably just try and turn lives and I think I called you afterwards, probably the day after, and apologize because it just it just wasn't wasn't right. You know, I forgot. I forgot the stressful environment that those guys were in, that the state community and I just both knocked my cold was I shouldn't have been. So I apologize to you for it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we moved out of a master that Garth Warshville Garcia is, because he views himself as losing it. Now I've seen people lose it and when they lose it it's usually in front of 40 or 50 people and it's an embarrassment to the lodge and embarrassing themselves. You really didn't lose it. You called a couple of your top officers into a private room and you express your disc, your, your, your lack of satisfaction with what you're doing.

Speaker 1:

You didn't. You didn't raise your voice, so I don't, I don't see is you did anything wrong there? Honestly, I probably would have done much worse in your situation than you did, but it did definitely. I mean, you know, and that's the problem, I think in Freemasonry in general because there's usually, I say, 8020 rule there's like 20% of your people care passionately about everything that's happening in the lodge and the other guys are just going through the motions.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

And we and that degree we had like a very intelligent young guy was a great memory who I think he just thought he would be able to wing it. He didn't want to do the work and practice is hard and that I mean. You know, like I said, when you have that night that sticks with you and I hopefully that stuck with that guy for for a while, because that kind of night should teach you a lesson that you do need to study. And that's where you are, how good you think you are. You definitely still need to practice and study.

Speaker 2:

And then start at home. I mean practice. You come into practice, your floorwork, but the words did you need to have to sit down at home and go through them?

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I would never show up to practice not knowing already what I'm going to do, because I would feel like I let everybody down when it came to my turn.

Speaker 2:

And that's where all the other boys are there, for you're at home and you, you plan to go through your work and you don't know what this letter means.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, there's so many people dying to talk about pre-masonry so they'll be delighted to have a call and somebody asked them what does this word here mean? Oh, so glad you asked, talking about you being the master. A lot of people here are trying to become the master of their lodge that are listening. A lot of people have already been master, or maybe even our master. Right now it's February, so they're early in their year. Do you have any? Did it? Did anything like of your year come about? That surprised you because you you've been in Freemasonry around at your whole life. You've been involved in the lodge since it sounds like early days and you said, and most of all of the chairs, so you were pretty prepared for the east, but undoubtedly something happened that surprised you. Did anything kind of come as a surprise to you as the master?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's more of the, the. How do you view sitting in that chair from outside the chair versus from inside the chair and I think you've mentioned it or you've used the word already. Here is served the young guy not even coming up to the chair, but the young guy sitting in the lodge or or coming up to the chairs will look at the share of the workshop master and think well, his, you know, the guy in command, the guy that we need to follow, the, the. You know the letter of the law, what he says.

Speaker 2:

By the time you go to that chair you realize you're not, you're not commanding much of anything. You are here to, to serve for, first of all, serve the lodge, at best of guys, the conversation in a stated meeting, to get to a point where we can make a decision, the station which is not yours, right, it's the lodges, so. So I think that that perspective has you pretty, pretty early on, is not, you know, within a couple of months of sitting in the workshop master share is just. You're there to to be the referee, hopefully not the referee of official referee, but the referee and guide of the conversation that happens within the lodge. There's a couple things that you may put your foot down and decide, but that is very, very limited.

Speaker 1:

Very few yeah.

Speaker 2:

Very, very few occasions, and mostly not even within a stated meaning environment. I remember, during the remodel, for example, so many ideas were being thrown around and we had a committee for that and all that. So we had a system in place and at some point I had to put my foot down, and so it was like you know what? There's the options, we're gonna choose this one. There's-.

Speaker 1:

I think it was the color blue.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember what it was, but it was like it was the color blue.

Speaker 1:

But then it became about what shade of blue that was. The deathlight people were willing to die for was how dark of a blue we were gonna go.

Speaker 2:

Right. So at some point I made a decision. I was like all right, I'll choose this one, this is what we're going for and let's move on.

Speaker 1:

We're visiting Sarasota Lodge 147, and you can go see the blue that he chose. It's actually quite lovely. I'm actually thinking of painting my little movie theater the exact same blue. It's a really rich dark blue.

Speaker 2:

I love it, so you have the lodge 147, you're home.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I know it's great, can't wait to do it. So you know the reason that we wanted to do this right now because I've been asking Garcia to do this and he's a very humble man, doesn't think he has much to say, ha not true, I know.

Speaker 1:

Not true at all. I found you to be one of the best masons that I knew while I was active in the state of Florida. The entire time I was there and really looked up to you a lot, especially as a master. I took many, many things from your year and it taught them for myself. I'm humbled. Yeah, I tried to do that as much as I could.

Speaker 2:

Hopefully you took the good part.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean absolutely there wasn't a lot of bad. You know, I saw a lot of other bad stuff happen that I could have taken, but you know how it is. You try to okay that doesn't work, don't do that, but this looks like it's working, let's do more of this. Like and that's what people should be doing is they come up through the lines making their little lists of what's working and what's not working and what maybe to expand on. That looked interesting. But one of the things that you and I have been talking about is the chamber of reflection. So I talked about it on the podcast years ago and you mentioned to me that in your lives they actually still do the chamber of reflection and, from what I understand, I was talking to Roberto Sanchez from Texas.

Speaker 1:

He's a grandmaster at Mexico State and he's done everything and everything.

Speaker 2:

Amazing. Yeah, I mean you talking to that man. That was just pure joy. It was amazing, oh, really.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean he's written books and he's been a member of pretty much he probably ran every dependent body that exists in the world and he's quite an advocate for the chamber of reflection, because a lot of the jurisdictions that he calls home still use the chamber of reflection and they're everyday Masonic work, and so he's written stories and articles and blog posts about the chamber of reflection and actually offered to come talk to us about it if we need it to help educate the state of Florida.

Speaker 2:

So if we might need that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think maybe, if they need some more education, we can do that, but I thought you know you and I should probably, so we authored a piece of legislation this year that I think will be read at Grand Lodge, I think, I don't know how long?

Speaker 2:

That's the hope.

Speaker 1:

That is a resolution to adopt an optional chamber of reflection for use in the jurisdiction of Florida. So this is something that would allow the lodges in Florida, if they chose to actually use it in their lodge, and give some guidance as to what that would look like to actually do that work. And you know, I personally have called some of the leadership in the state of Florida and this was not received well by a single person that I talked to. In their official stance, almost everybody I talked to loves the idea as a person, as a Mason, but in their official roles they're like the devil. Let me do this. It's never gonna happen. I don't think it's a good idea, but they all love the idea as an individual Mason. So I'm hoping that the brothers of the state of Florida feel the same way. We've had things taken from us in Florida. When I came to Sarasota Lodge, they used to do a master Mason degree and in one of the degrees, in the certain section, they would use a prop that the state of Florida has since.

Speaker 2:

No longer there.

Speaker 1:

From Richard at work and to me this is a huge mistake. I mean they say we can't make changes and then you chip away at it until what's left, like you are making changes. Sorry, grand Lodge of Florida, but when you take something away, that is a change, just like adding something is also a change. So you're clearly okay with changing ritual work. So our work is an open to interpretation, for sure by changes in our digestive and Masonic lot which can be changed through our anal communication. So the process is anyone can write a piece of legislation that gets sponsors or people that sign off on that legislation, and I don't think there's any minimum requirement for that, I think it's just more.

Speaker 2:

Well, there's a minimum requirement. Yeah, there's no, I think it's one or two and can just go for it.

Speaker 1:

But there's a very low bar as to what there's a maximum.

Speaker 2:

I mean you can't have too many because they won't fit on the page Literally. That is one of the limitations it has to. The legislation that you submit has to fit in two pages including sponsors. So you can't have 500 sponsors because that's just not gonna go through. That's the way in proper format. I believe that's the term that they like. So proper.

Speaker 1:

In proper form and it needs to be short. You said it can't be more than two pages.

Speaker 2:

And then more than two pages.

Speaker 1:

Signatures and with title and everything else. That's the fit in two pages. So you have to be really focused, which is a challenge, because when you're trying to write well, as we found, when you're trying to write legislation, you wanna provide background and color and context and you wanna talk about your vision for things, but you can't. There's just no room for any of that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and includes also one thing that we found ourselves trying to figure out on this one legislation is how do we determine or how do we guide how the chamber of legislation needs to be used, and I was that can't fit in two pages.

Speaker 2:

So, having not written any legislation before, because this is both our first feature legislation on the right I was going back and forth with the most forceful Lynn, who graciously offered us some help on getting to the right format, and I'm going like hey, can we put an appendix, is it open to see appendix for details on how to build this thing and how do we do this Because it's not gonna fit into pages. And after a couple back and forth, he finally relented and say hey, just mentioned that the comedian work will take care of making the work, which is not a single line, that fits well and that takes care of that, at least for the purpose of getting the legislation on the floor. Yeah, it's difficult because you don't know what you can write or what would make it there. That would get away from you and the two pages that you have.

Speaker 1:

So we managed to get it all on the one page, and that's a good signature. We didn't go crazy on the signatures, although we definitely could have. There were so many people that really were either working on their own legislation or heavily, heavily support the legislation that we put forth. And so what do you think? Do you think we should read the legislation and then kind of talk about it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sure, let's go for it.

Speaker 1:

It's so short, it's not like it's gonna bore you guys, it's like literally one page. All right. So here is our actual resolution to adopt the optional chamber of reflection for use in Florida work. Optionally that's the key there. Optionally, it's not like this will be mandated for anybody. Now, when I was talking to one of the leaders of the grand lodge, especially around the ritual work, he said I really feel like it weakens your legislation to say optional and there's really no precedent for this in Florida work. And I obviously beg to differ. There are countless cases where there's optional work presented.

Speaker 2:

I mean there's plenty of spots in the red book.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, stand the red book for optional.

Speaker 2:

And parentheses says optional. So there's optional parts in the actual Masonic work book that we have. So there's precedent and one of the reasons why we wanted to be optional I believe we stated further on the line that might have been mentioned. And now building a chamber of reflection is takes some. It's not a huge capital, but it takes some money to get it done and takes some space within the large building to get it done. So here we have several ways in that that can't happen for a particular lodge. They say they're lower on that budget.

Speaker 2:

There's some lodges in the state that they might be struggling financially. They might be okay to stay afloat, but they just don't have the capital to get on a project to build a room for this. There might be lodges that are meeting in a building that doesn't belong to them. Here in district 23, we have a couple of lodges that meet in buildings that do not actually belong to them. So we'll, yeah the renting space. So will they have permission to do this? Probably not. So it's important to make it optional, so that putting something in the workbook that will put a lodge in a bad spot to try and get this done. So it's important to have it optional that way.

Speaker 1:

I agree, and I think it's good to give lodges options to do or not do things, because they have certain cultures that exist.

Speaker 1:

Within a lodge that you know, like ours, for example, would be all about this. We're very much into history and esoteric study and ritual and really uncovering the meanings of Freemasonry and applying it to our lives. Oh, that's right, they call that Freemasonry, we practice Freemasonry in our lives, and so we would definitely be interested. Now, like you said, there are lodges that are leasing space. So what I hope comes of this, what I hope, my dream, is that this does pass and the Committee on Work is smart enough to put together just a simple one-page plastic rollout thing that you can put on the wall that has most of the signs and symbols that would be required to call it a chamber of reflection, that you could roll up and take it down when you're not using it and put it up for the ceremony. Any room in your freaking lodge, like you, could find a way to make this applicable. Even though it wouldn't be the best experience, at least it would be better than not doing it at all.

Speaker 2:

To have a bare minimum that it would get. It will be crashing, get the job done, but it will be easy for someone to get implemented.

Speaker 1:

It could be that simple Just have the signs and everything required on one large vinyl thing that you roll away and put away like every other prop. When you need it, you pull it out and when you don't, it's in the closet somewhere. Other lodges might have a dedicated room that they would keep just for this, which would be awesome. Let's read this the Chamber of Reflection has had documented use in Freemasonry as part of the initiation process since the beginning of speculative masonry. That's what we say here in the first line. Many people would say it's been used far before speculative masonry in ritual work. We can't get into that, I know.

Speaker 2:

We're going to hear another point.

Speaker 1:

This has been going on for a long time, Whereas there is an increased interest in modern Freemasonry to engage in the more esoteric aspects of Freemasonry. We know this is true. We can all thank Dan Brown for that. Thank you, we all appreciate your books. They got everybody interested in this stuff. Whereas the Chamber of Reflection allows the Interdiprendous Candidate to reflect upon his past, present and future, further allowing him to consider his reasons for wanting to become a Freemason and therefore providing a more solemn and meaningful experience. We can get into this because you've actually used the Chamber of Reflection. In a way it was intended, Because I've been through the Chamber of Reflection in the York right in possibly a version I've seen in the Scottish right, but that isn't really explained well, even though it's used in my opinion. But it's still better than nothing. But a lot of people aren't getting that experience and it's certainly not when you need it, which is before you even become a Mason.

Speaker 2:

Right, that, I think, is one of the most important aspects of this. Yeah, we've used it in the pending bodies here, Mostly adopted after the fact when the Chamber of Reflection was still used very much used well before then in the Blue Lodge. But yeah, I did use it going up during my initiation in my home lodge in Puerto Rico. Before the initiation I stepped into the Chamber of Reflection.

Speaker 1:

What did they have? A dedicated room just for that.

Speaker 2:

There's a dedicated room for a list of. Well, on my home lodge there's a dedicated room. It's a three-story building. Second story there's a library and right in front of the library it's a seemingly just blank door. Just not, it's unassuming, it's just. You know there's the library and right across is a door that sits between the flights of stairs. You go up two flights of stairs. You turn left there's a door. There's the library. To your right there's a door to the left. What if a door for we don't know? And we could go into the third floor where the lodge is. So you know they start. Then they say we need to do this. You go down to the second floor, open the door, there's the Chamber of Reflection and you sit in there and you contemplate.

Speaker 2:

And the interesting part about that Chamber of Reflection is the EA degree in what we will affectionately call the red lodge, for lack of better word right now. It's slightly different from the EA degree in our bull lodges here in Florida. There's a couple elements that get used, very interesting elements that get used on the EA degree over there that don't get used here. So those elements are very striking to a candidate to an EA going through that degree very striking. You will remember that. What happened there and even then I would say that stepping into that Chamber of Reflection and just sitting there made a bigger impact on me than going through that degree. No, granted, the degree is great, I almost always remember it but sitting in that room it had an impact and we're losing that here. That opportunity is being lost on candidates and even brothers that could use it just to sit in a flat. It's something that should be available to them.

Speaker 1:

Now is this room locked or off limits to members or non-members of that lodge?

Speaker 2:

I mean it's not off limits to the members of the lodge. I don't know about members, I doubt they'll. Even you know we notice that there's a room that they can't go through.

Speaker 1:

But it's not like a big secret that has to be hidden from anyone, right Like if someone was to discover it, it wouldn't be like oh geez, we broke a Masonic rule. They saw it.

Speaker 2:

Oh no, I mean, you know, if someone comes in and they're visiting and they say, hey, what's this? And they open the door, it's going to be kind of weird. But like any other, you know, you go, you walk into a lodge and you see an altar, Someone that is not to someone that is not aware of what a Masonic lodge is.

Speaker 2:

that's going to be weird. To someone that doesn't know what a does not know what a chamber of reflection is or is not expecting to open a door and see what the furnishings of a chamber of reflection is, it's going to be weird. But yeah, it's not something that is you know secret. You know you enter into this room and you know the mysteries of the world are imparted on to you, not that.

Speaker 1:

Right, and I mean it's true. You walk into any any ritual for any group and it's going to be weird if you don't know what's going on. Like you walk into Catholics receiving communion and hear them talking about drinking blood and eating the body of their savior. You're going to be a little freaked out if you don't understand that Context matters right. Like symbolism is important only for the people that are using this stuff. To everyone else it's going to be confusing, like part of. I've talked to hundreds and hundreds of people that want to join fraternity. Almost all of them are curious and about things they've heard and they want answers for themselves. They want to see for themselves or learn for themselves.

Speaker 1:

So, the fact that we have things that make us different and unique and mysterious. That's who we are. I'm really ashamed that we're getting rid of things or not allowing things because people that don't understand them might be scared of them, like the coffin in the Master Mason degree, for example. Great example. I guess somebody thought that was a scary thing, so we got rid of it. Like what?

Speaker 2:

Now, now, officially don't quote me on that I think officially the reason I went why that crop was removed was because it was maybe interfering in how we moved around it. But that's you know, it was done is done. So that's how I'm going to. Maybe we'll bring it back.

Speaker 1:

I mean, if that was the case, you could just, you know, say you have to be able to move around it. You wouldn't remove it completely. It is, I know, though, because, like, for example, pirate flags with skull and crossbones are seen as a bad thing. Negative connotation to the skull and crossbones it means you, I guess you're into killing or death or something I don't know, but actually that's not what it means to certain groups of people.

Speaker 1:

Masons, in particular, are very concerned with reminding ourselves that we're going to die, and it kills our ego. That's the thing. Like when you forget you could die at any freaking moment, you start to feel more powerful, more, better, more, whatever. Like. You need to be reminded, dude, you're an animal and you don't. You're not going to last forever, so you might as well optimize the time you have and do as much good as you can. And we all need those reminders from time to time, and we get them in different ways, and one of the ways Masonry does it is through symbols that remind us of death or that we're going to die, and it's not meant to be a scary, mean, nasty, hateful.

Speaker 2:

And it's not a scary idea. I mean one of those phrases that you hear everywhere. It doesn't need to be in large or anything, it's just people use it as a joke. What are two things that are certain lives, death and taxes. So, right there to the uninitiated, to anyone walking down the street, there is a phrase already made that reminds them that you are going to die. For us, having a symbol that reminds us of that fact, I'll be in a more solemn environment. It's the same thing. We're just getting reminding of it in a different way.

Speaker 2:

We're not joking about it. We just have a symbol that represents it. So it's not a scary. It's not something about a scary concept. It's just something about reminding us of something that's going to happen and to make the best of it.

Speaker 1:

Right Exactly To helpfully keep us focused on what's important, which is right now. Pay attention, look, we're having a conversation here. We're both alive for a minute. Let's talk Like focus, pay attention. Some people, I really think they look at it as if either you want to harm or you want other people to die. Maybe it's the connotation they're getting from it, or that you are fascinated with death in some way, like you just have some kind of macabre like knee.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, some sort of nefarious connection that uses that simple no. Let's be honest here. That point is just conspiracy theories making a narrative on your mind of what a symbol that we all are familiar with means.

Speaker 1:

We all have our different faiths which reassure us of some kind of probably life beyond death or in the mortality of our soul, whether you're Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever you got going on, that's figured out before you came to Freemasonry. We're not trying to solve that problem. We're just going to keep you focused on the fact that you're alive right now. This is a short period of time that you need to do something with it.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. That's one of those things that we mentioned, I think, at every. Well, we used to have our good old trustee, rusty Lindenein, that would mention we're not a rebellion. Salvation is not something that we offer. That's something that you got to figure out within you and your faith. We're not a rebellion, we're just a system of morals.

Speaker 1:

If you're going to be a fraternal order focused on making yourself better, you've got to think about your own mortality and come to grips with that. It's tough, it's a very difficult subject. People don't like to think about it. It makes them uncomfortable. We don't think you should either sit there and fixate on it, but it's something that you can't run from is the key. It's something that you must accept and deal with life as it comes to you.

Speaker 1:

This chamber of reflection is really meant to get a person who's never thought about this and forced them to think about it for a minute. It puts them in an environment where they're isolated with their own thoughts and they're surrounded by objects meant to instill that thought in their mind that I am nothing more than what I'm seeing. I am the bones, I am the skull. I will be a skull like this someday. The candles are burning. The time is running out. Every symbol is intimately trying to connect with your subconscious and get you into a place where you're like okay, yeah, this is serious business that I'm about to deal with.

Speaker 2:

Hello, it's a way to look at your life. I think it's important to make the distinction, because right now, what you mentioned was you're sitting in a place that's isolated. You're faced with the fact that skin and bones, the person that you are, is meant to go away to work on what you have right now. That is not meant to replace your beliefs and faith that you may already have, for example, I'm a Christian, so my view on eternal life and what I am or what this body is, for example, has no bearing on what that room, what the message of that room, gave to me. We need to work on what we have right now, every day, day to day. That's what it's been talking about.

Speaker 2:

Your spiritual journey, so to speak, your faith, your dish. Affirm yourself with that. That is one thing. You know. My life after death, that's that's one thing. The, the idea of that impending death that I wanted to think about is how do we react to the day to day, how do we make best use of the time that we have right now? That's that's the idea, and that's that's what we're trying to, trying to work on.

Speaker 1:

It's true if you woke up every morning and thought I'm gonna die at the end of this day, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't spend that day playing video games.

Speaker 1:

I'm pretty sure you probably wouldn't. You'd probably Want to be around people you love and you probably want to express to them how important they are, and you probably want to engage in something lasting. And that's kind of what this is about. It's not about the fixation on death, it's about the fixation on life through the reminder of death. So when us all work needs to be uniformly adopted through the jurisdiction. And this is a problem because I was told, why do we need to make a legislation? You could do it now, okay, but if I start doing it now and then somebody in Miami starts doing it, it could be wildly different totally different experience, totally different objects, totally different, maybe done at different times of the degree, maybe to different severities. Like it could be so wildly different that it needs to be Addressed so that it, that our grand lodge, can provide guidance on a uniform way to do it throughout the jurisdiction.

Speaker 1:

Right whereas some lodges may lack the resources, as you mentioned earlier, to implement, furnish and or maintain a chamber of reflection within their lodge. This is why optional needs to become an important factor, because not Everyone can do it and not everyone wants to do it, and that's okay Whereas there is a precedent of sections within the existing ritual that are deemed and noted to be optional or at the discretion of the worstful master of the lodge. Our ritual work is where fleet with optional work.

Speaker 2:

Look in the there's, at least Within the first two minutes of opening a lodge, there's at least two things that are optional that we barely ever the flag ceremony itself is optional.

Speaker 1:

You don't have to pledge allegiance to the flag, it's an optional piece of ritual work. I think you know. And then look at the charges, the lectures, they've all got optional work within them, even down to the fact of when you're the master for your year. You can say I want people to salute me at the altar when they leave the lodge room. Other masters might say I'm okay with deferring that work to my senior warden. It's optional every year for the master right? It's embedded in our work that the master can optionally do that. So this isn't this isn't making anything new. This is already existing now. Therefore, be it resolved that the most worshipful grand lodge of free and accepted mason's of Florida adopts the use of the chamber of reflection Is a part of approved work in any well regulated lodge under its jurisdiction and.

Speaker 2:

No, no, let's. Let's make it clear that that line says Adovs as approved work. So we will talk some the optional part later. But we're not, we're not limiting ourselves here to To, you know, tie the grand lodges hands on their backs or the lodges that want to implement it. It's just many means. Grand last will approve that this can be done.

Speaker 1:

Yes, right, that makes it okay that if you're a Regular lodge under its jurisdiction, they're saying you can do it and be it further resolved that the committee on work shall develop the ritual room requirements, appearance and Used to be presented at the 2025 grand last session for final adoption. I Don't think that that is. This is probably the part that people are gonna. That was that was.

Speaker 2:

That was all most worship will land and lands idea. Just to make sure that you know we don't go over or allotted space for the page to try and cram the whole description of the Chamber of Reflection in there, and just to make sure that Everything, everyone likes it, that you know and this is approved, I mean your work comes back with what's gonna happen. And Just you know, cause our tease not alive.

Speaker 1:

And be it further resolved that the use of the Chamber of Reflection shall be noted as optional under the discretion of the worship master, not required any particular lock Fertilely submitted by us, and there's a couple of names missing there, but yeah, this is an early version, so this isn't the final one that was submitted, but I think the wording is pretty close to what was finalized.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and so I. I've heard it was already rejected. I'm, I've been, I was told it was going to be rejected. I mean even the person who helped us put it together said they thought it was a bad idea.

Speaker 1:

So we're very aware that the Grand Lodge does not want this to be a thing and that the Committee on Work isn't looking to involve itself in it.

Speaker 1:

We're very aware of that. However, the way Freemasonry works is anyone can write legislation and it's the brothers of the jurisdiction that decide if they want it, not the Grand Lodge, not the Committee on Work. So don't let it dissuade you to put forth an idea, because even if this is shot down, I'm not going to be embarrassed and run away and flush my head in a toilet. There's going to be interesting conversation that's going to come out of this, whether it's adopted or not. And I know for a fact that a lot of people are very fascinated with the idea and they want to be able to do it Like so that it can be uniformly adopted, as we say here. Because the fear is, if they do it, they might do something that goes too far. They just don't know what too far is like, you know, or they might not do enough. Maybe it's not even a chamber of reflection they had, maybe they just put a chair in a blank white wall and they, you know, because they didn't know any better.

Speaker 2:

So we know and that's the purpose of this, let's make sure that it's you know that the brothers want it want to use it and if they want to use it, that is, use and use correctly, in the way that it should be done. And let's, let's you know not to not to rain on the parade of the Jewish Sporting Committee. We knew this was going to, this was going to get rejected. We expected this is going to be rejected and and on their defense, I'm going to go ahead and said that if they had gone ahead and say yeah, let's go for it, I would be a little bit worried because that means any old change will get passed, that your students and committee and work and get the proof which that's not.

Speaker 2:

That's not what we're about. You know, we want to protect the way that we do things and what I would expect a lot of scrutiny when it comes to adding, adding some work to to Florida work. This is what that is over to be done in other places. That's neither here nor there. We don't do what other places do. It's not. You know, we don't do it because someone else does. We do it because we. You know there's something that we want to do and it's been part of formation we at large Before, so so I would expect it to be rejected and I would and we'll just have to work with, with the information that we have and then made the brothers aware of what this means.

Speaker 1:

You know, let the brothers make that decision Exactly, and that's how democracy works and that's how Freemasonry works. The Grand Master doesn't make the final decision. Grand Lodge doesn't make the final decision. Only the representatives from every lodge that are authorized to vote on behalf of all the members of their lodge make that decision. So this and other legislation will be put out as it is every year, and hopefully your lodge has discussion about it and hopefully your lodge votes on it and your representatives take note of the lodges votes and they go vote the will of the lodge on their behalf. I mean, that's what I did every year. I went to Grand Lodge regardless of how I felt about the matter. I took none of what the lodge wanted and that's how I voted.

Speaker 2:

There's. There's. There's things that you do as a workshop master might not, you know, I agree with want to do something different, but if your lodge says they we actually like or don't like, or whatever. There's particular legislation. It is your duty as a representative of your lodge to do what the craft of the brothers of your lodge want to do, what it comes through to legislation and Grand Lodge.

Speaker 1:

So I had the. I considered an honor. I was sitting next to worship of Garcia to Grand Lodge session and one of the legislation is a crazy legislation because COVID was the year before, so we had like 20 some pieces of legislation.

Speaker 2:

It was a long time.

Speaker 1:

And so we were there and the legislation was actually. A guy that I have a worship, that I become quite familiar with, daniel Malina of Miami, spoke very eloquently about the desire for some Brazilian brothers to have the work translated into their native language, and I think they had several enough members that they could actually have entire watches of Brazilian members doing Brazilian work, and so he and not Brazilian work Florida work in Portuguese.

Speaker 1:

Portuguese. I'm sorry it is Florida work, but translated into their language, which is Portuguese. And so I was just shocked because it was the first time that I saw like the outside world eek into the fraternity you know in such a public way. There were brothers standing up publicly saying this is America and if you don't speak English you don't belong here. Even the Grand Master was gathering people down, asking them to keep some decorum as the session was happening. It was really hard to sit through and I don't think it passed that year.

Speaker 2:

It didn't pass. And it didn't pass by small margin. It wasn't like a landslide, no it was. It was close, but yeah it was. It was a little bit infuriating that that those few minutes where discussion was going back and forth it was it wasn't.

Speaker 1:

it wasn't Masonic at all, and you see how rampant on sonic behavior can go unchecked.

Speaker 2:

And there could be merits to have said no, let's, let's not, let's not do this particular legislation right now because of maybe and see that could be valid. But we have people standing up and saying, you know, America, and that's not a that's not a logical reason.

Speaker 1:

That was the argument for some people just America, and that's not much of an argument at all. You know, and I'm sure that this happens all the time. I mean, I saw the most heated legislation I saw, involved asking Masons to wear dress pants like angry about weird things.

Speaker 1:

I guess. But I fully expect that there will be people that will say this is not necessary and this is, you know, could be offensive to people. I don't know, I'm just trying to make things up because I really don't know what the arguments against it are. But I imagine people will come with some arguments against it and we should hear those arguments and we should talk about them and we should wait for the cons, and that's all we're trying to do is have a conversation about this and I'm very interested to hear the cons. I know for a fact we have a PhD who's a brother from North Florida who has a desire to speak for it, and you know, I think there are a lot of other very high profile Masons in the state that will probably want to speak for this. Hopefully, we won't have to speak for it ourselves If we do. That's your job.

Speaker 2:

I'll try and be there, but if I can, if the work of speaking for it by enthusiastic brothers can come not from the person that broke thing, even the better yeah. I agree, I'll be at Grand Lodge this year, but it won't be to speak about this, but if I have to, I will.

Speaker 1:

I'm hoping I don't have to. The legislation, as you can see, is very simple and straightforward. It's not really putting a lot of pressure or stress or burden on anyone and it's not really mandating that new things be created. So this is the legislation. Don't pay attention to this. This list is actually not complete. Too late you paid attention to it and I thought we would just close it out by sharing some pictures on that are visible online of the Chamber of Reflection. Now I have some that you sent me of an actual Chamber of Reflection, but I didn't want to pull them up because, again, I wasn't sure if that's private to your lodge or how I would say. Let's keep those on the covers.

Speaker 2:

Now that may look much a bit different, but just because you know that's my Chamber of Reflection from home, got you Well, this is some symbols that you would typically see in a Chamber of Reflection.

Speaker 1:

Now, it's not all of them. This probably isn't the proper. I don't know if there is a proper configuration, but you know you're always going to have a mirror for someone to see their own reflection, because you're not going to see it. But you know you're always going to have a mirror for someone to see their own reflection, because it's an important part of literally reflecting on yourself, and we know that you're probably always going to see some bones or human remains or some other signs of death to remind the person that they are going to die. You see the hourglass there and several other symbols. This goes very, very deep.

Speaker 1:

Okay, the symbolism of that's used in the Chamber of Reflection goes incredibly deep, and I saw an article written by Roberto Sanchez, who was a past guest from Texas. This is an article he wrote for the Square Magazine and it is quite in depth, and look at this guy's titles. This just goes on and on, but he wrote an incredibly great article about the Chamber of Reflection, the alchemical symbols of it, the Masonic symbols of it. There's so much meaning that's meant to get a person mentally prepared to go through a life change, because that's what the Entered Apprentice degree is right. It's as if you're being born into a new life, let's say and this is kind of as he puts it at some point in his article it's akin to what happens when a caterpillar goes into a cocoon, and this chamber is essentially the cocoon and it really crystallizes the form that you're about to become and the work happens in the cocoon, which is the Chamber of Reflection, and this is where it all comes from, and it's all there.

Speaker 2:

I mean, he does a great job explaining things, and this is something that can be found online. There's no deep, dark secrets about what this means. It's all there. It's something that we use to remind us of of life through the image of something that is going to happen at some point.

Speaker 1:

This is an actual chamber reflection in an actual lodge in the United States of America right here, so it doesn't have to be a cave, it doesn't have to be an underground chamber. You don't have to have crazy wall paintings and carvings. This can be done in a way that is not expensive and is easy to set up and remove, and we're hoping that we can get to a point where our committee on work can start to put their heads together on how to actually put this together.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're great to see it here. It might take a little bit because then we'll have to wait until 2025 and then we can implement it then. But if it gets a job done, we're willing to wait a little bit.

Speaker 1:

So the process, the process is we brought the legislation, it's been being reviewed. We don't know what's happened officially yet, so it could go either way. Let's say the committee on jurisprudence will look at it and either recommend adoption or rejection, and then that message, along with the legislation, will get pushed out to the lodges sometime before grandmodge. I think. It usually happens like a month or two months before grandmodge, something like that.

Speaker 1:

So probably like March, April, you'll start to see it and then grandmodge happens and the vote will take place. So is it just a majority of the brothers that allow?

Speaker 2:

us to pass For something like this. I believe it's a majority. I may be wrong on that, but yeah. So if we get passed, if we get passed, it gets passed the way that it's written, then we can't do anything for that year, basically it allows the committee on work then to spend a year working on putting together the guidelines.

Speaker 2:

It's not like it gets passed and the week after, for the very first EA degree after grandmodge, we have a chamber of reflection. Now that's not how it's going to happen. It's going to be properly put in place. The description, everything that would mean for a Florida chamber of reflection to happen, will be put down by the committee on work. So it's all regulated, it's all uniform and gets approved 2025 grandmodge. At that point, then we can go ahead and start working on implementing it.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, then I guess a year later we would come back and they would present what they have and the brothers would say, yeah, we can live with this or no, we can't. And at that point it might actually start to roll out sometime in 2025, 2026, if everything went swimmingly well. That's how Freemasonry works, and you have to learn to work within those guidelines. It's meant to go slow and it's meant to get it right and it's meant to last, which I'm all for that I have no problem going slow, and I was telling somebody I think this is the main problem we have right now, because we have a generation coming through that's of the internet age now, and they grew up with getting everything they want right now.

Speaker 1:

And so they're talking for eternity, with that mentality of I want to give it to me, I need it, and we have hundreds of years of tradition of no, this takes a while and this is the process, is going to be the process.

Speaker 2:

So there's a bit of a clash there, I think, between this newer generation of people and the tradition of Freemasonry, which is slow and I mean it's interesting because, because you have that, that aspect of the current generation, but at the same time, you know, is it we're in a lot? Quite clearly, we get the majority of the brothers that are really into what Masonry means, what, what the esoteric discussions are happening are driven by those same, that same generation, that same young generation. So so you know, you have a case of some might come and be coming in with I want it now, and they either get stopped in the track and realize, oh no, there's, there's the right way to do things and there's a whole lot more meaning behind everything.

Speaker 2:

So, before you have you have the young guys that will come right off the bat with. I want to learn. Yeah and I want to know what all these means. I want to find what this means. So it's an interesting dichotomy. I would say what, what, what this? This current generation, how, how they react to being in an organization like Freemasonry.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think the reason it works so well in our lodge is because we have the transitional people in place like ourselves. Well, maybe, maybe me you're. You're younger than me, you're probably part of generation. You grew up with the internet and stuff.

Speaker 2:

But I sure did. I mean. I remember dial up, I remember it.

Speaker 1:

But I mean in our lodge we do have, like we're the in between where we're not of the elders.

Speaker 1:

I guess you can say you'll never, seen it that way, but we're also certainly not part of this. Give it to me right now. Generation. We kind of know where the levers are and how to pull stuff, and I feel like it's our job to take the energy of this group and try to infuse it into the energy of that group and I feel like we are the the transitory piece of this whole thing. We have to keep them satiated and understanding the levers and the mechanisms and we have to make these people understand that you have to have a little passion and energy. You can't just let it die. We need to keep life in this thing and then, to make them understand.

Speaker 2:

You know, get those two sides to understand each other. You know, get the, get the old guard to understand that life as a young man is different from what life as a young man was for for you. And we need to make the young guys understand that there's, there's, there's a method to how things work. There's, there's a reason why those old timers are still here, because there's, you know, there's a mental, there's a ritual, there's, there's things that they need to take it slow on and learn. So it's just a matter of getting those two sides to understand each other.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And you know, we've been blessed at Sarasota lodge because we do have so many people really interested in working and understanding and learning and when you're asking questions as when you're being asked question as a teacher you're learning when you answer. You know, sometimes I'm saying things to someone that's asked me a question and I'm realizing I'm saying it out loud. For the first time ever I've said this out loud and I'm kind of like codifying my thought process as I'm saying it. But to them they think that you've got it all figured out. You know, it's like I appreciate that you asked those kind of questions. That forces me to think about it. And also I think this generation doesn't reflect much. You know the, if you think of someone from the 40s, they had much more time on their hands and they probably had a lot more self confidence. People today are bombarded with everyone else's success and everyone else's. You know they're beautiful, everything and the perfect dogs and they have the whole whole season.

Speaker 1:

It's like this generation, it's not only that, it's also.

Speaker 2:

It's also the fact that how, how things get done nowadays, you know a guy in the 40s will have, would have to take, you know, his time to learn how to do something in you know, in painful detail, before he would be able to do it now. Now I can go. You know, I want to build a little box. I can go to YouTube and they tell me a get this, this and this and this and screw it here, here and there and a couple of nails later I have a box. Well, a guy in 1940s would have to figure that out himself. So that process is what the young generation is missing, but it's something that they can still learn.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it's a good thing. I mean, something should come fast and be easy and other things should take a minute and it should require a lot of people's eyes on it and it's important. Our ritual is very, very important to us as Mason's and so that I think this is an important part of the ritual that has, like you said, has been around since God knows for how long this has been around, but a long, long time and is actively used in a lot of jurisdictions around the world and even in some US lodges being used regularly. So it's just kind of bringing us up to speed. Really, it's not inventing anything new, certainly not.

Speaker 2:

It's just is providing the opportunity that that other Mason's have had. I mean here, for you have myself, as an example, will have a brother that have gone, have experienced that, and it's just a matter of providing that experience. You're not changing anything, making anything new, is just providing what, what we believe is missing.

Speaker 1:

Now, when we started you said I had you for about an hour. We've been at this for almost an hour and over an hour and 20 minutes, so way over extended. I'm not sure if you're going to see it, but I do appreciate you taking the time. What I'd like to do, if you're okay with it, is do another, another podcast where we actually dig into the ceremony itself and kind of go step by step through many of the custom or the adopted customs for how people do the Chamber of Reflection. I just need to verify that we can talk about it, because not I'm not sure that we're in the right spot for that.

Speaker 1:

So we'll look into what we can say and can't say, and then I would love to walk people through what people are doing for the Chamber of Reflection so you can see what it would actually be like to go through it yourself. Where's what Garcia has been through it. You said it was actually more impactful to you than the degree itself. What kind of? Are you able to say anything about the kind of impressions that it made on you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean so, at least for me, having been in the environment that I was, having been kind of overly familiar with with remacery through, you know, my grandfather and great grandfather beforehand. I guess it's a long line, so it wasn't anything new. So it was. There was a certain part of me that was like, well, I'm doing this because, well, this is what I need to do. It. It's already been a part of my, of me since before I was.

Speaker 2:

I got here, and being in that Chamber of Reflection made me read things like why are you here? You know it's. It's not because of your legacy, you know it's. It's you're here alone. This is this.

Speaker 2:

Is you right now thinking about why you're about to embark on this, why you're, why you want to be here and not going to go into too many details? There's there's one of the one question that you're presented with. Inside. There's a couple questions, several questions that you're presented with, one in particular. You may be realized like you do, it might even worth it to be, to be here. Is it, is it, am I? Am I hiding anything that that that would make me not be a good candidate for this? And those are the kind of questions that that make an impact on you, when, when you sit in there by yourself contemplating what you know, that you're about to go through a, through a joint, joint fraternity and with like mind individuals. So that's to me that was, that was a big, a big thing stepping in there. It's just those questions. You had to think about it. You realize and internalize what you know, why you're there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because you had Generations of masons before you. It wasn't even a question if you were gonna join free masonry. Right, like it was proud. You said you weren't even 18 and people were like, yep, this guy is gonna join. They were announcing it like it was a foregone conclusion and yet when you're sitting there alone, it becomes real personal, real quick.

Speaker 2:

Yep.

Speaker 1:

It's about you and your soul and your intentions.

Speaker 2:

Probably yeah the main tension is a big part. You know, yeah, just you're not joining because, at least for my part, because that was the right thing to do, because my family had already been there, they was, it was, it was my doing. Now this is my decision right. I Because. Yeah this is the personal thing. Now you know it's not. It's not a I'm coming in with a fan. No, this is I'm coming in.

Speaker 2:

Yeah do I want to come in? This is do I want to do this? And now it's at the end of that that's first fan was yeah, this is, this is what I actually wanted to do.

Speaker 1:

So when I joined I went into a room with four other guys and I had a guy Making jokes about goats that I didn't get and people were laughing. It was very not serious and I Certainly didn't have any time to reflect on anything. It was. It was like joke, joke, joke, go. And then we were part, we were doing our degree and I got the lecture and I can tell you the lecture is the only thing that stopped me in my tracks all night and made me think, and that was worshipful Ramon Hernandez. That did the lecture for me. He wasn't even a member of the lodge I was in, but that lecture he gave in set me on a path that caused me to do everything I did afterwards. If it wasn't for that lecture, I don't know that I would have gotten very hooked Much about Freemasonry, to be honest with you.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of us, oh, a great bit of gratitude to.

Speaker 1:

Ignited, like I didn't believe that he did it from memory first of all, even though people were telling me he did, and I Went up to him and personally asked him, and when he told me to my face he did it from memory, I believed him and and that's when I decided I was gonna do that If one man can do it, I could do it right.

Speaker 1:

But then just because you can do it from memory doesn't mean you do it good like he did it good. It's not, you just did it, and that the fact that he did it well May. That was the only part of the night that actually made a personal connection with me, and so I could see how that feeling of personal connection from the very beginning Would have probably made me a very different Mason. You know, if I hadn't gotten the lecture from him, if I had gotten it from someone else who did everything, the way the rest of that night went, which was very casual and jokey, I don't know that I'd have gotten involved in the line or even you know, cared to become a ritualist myself, so people need to think about how important the ritual is to us and how you know the solemnness of it all is lost sometimes because I Mean we've all seen it.

Speaker 1:

When you're in a degree and you're there on a Tuesday night or whenever you're, you're pumped, you're excited to be doing it. Everybody's like ready to go. It's like you're about to put on a performance. We're looking at it in some ways as a play for the audience, but these guys are making a commitment to their life. It's a serious serious business we're doing.

Speaker 2:

When, when you, when you start doing the degrees and it's, you know, it's the 15th degree and in seven months, to you as the one performing it, it starts, stops, you know, starts losing the value that the one going through it definitely me, you know it's good taking out of it. So we just need to remember that that the person going through it that's the first time and you know we might have repeated the same words, you know a hundred times the guy going through it that's the first time that he's heard it and the first time that he's had the chance to internalize.

Speaker 1:

What all that means and it's impactful. I mean, that's what's. That's how I've been able to stay connected to the ritual work Cuz, like you said, I you do 25 EA degrees in a year, or 12, or eight. It's a lot. You could lose focus on what's important. But if the point of that degree is those people and you're really focused on those people and getting that Emotional reaction out of them, it's always gonna be good every time. And you, you watched me grow up as an as a ritualist, me saw everything and I definitely had a learning curve. But it doesn't matter how much ritual I do. I'm always trying to make a connection with the person and Every piece of ritual I do for every person that comes through the door and that's how it stays fresh.

Speaker 2:

And and the fun part is that that, at least the way that that I, that I'm seeing you when you go through the election, or that which is, by the way, then there's been a pleasure of watching you coming from from the young, the young enterprises, to To just getting though giving those lectures. I mean, you make the connection not only with with the, the candidate and the person going through it, but you got the whole room of. You know, the 80 year old past master is Riveted because that that lecture is speaking to him in a way that they haven't spoken to him in 50 years. So it's, I got a command you on that, because you know it's, it's, if any, if anyone hasn't had the chance to watch one of your lectures, you gotta, they gotta, get to it.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you for that. I'll never forget. Like there was one night I don't know why we were we had a competition degree team that did courtesy work for us in your year, so worst for Garcia's on the sideline and he was asked to keep notes of how we did. So he happened to have a notebook and a pen and he was like for us keeping track of all our mistakes so that we could get the download later. And I had the unfortunate Role of doing the lecture that night and I was the chaplain. So I was right next to you and they called me him and I got up to go do the lecture and he made sure to look at me and click his pen as loud as possible go, no, I.

Speaker 2:

Gotta do it.

Speaker 1:

The thing is like I knew you're just doing it as a joke, so it actually helped me out a lot. It's like you know how, when you laugh, a lot of the pressure goes away. I know you weren't. You weren't Making the notes, because it was a good night.

Speaker 2:

They was a very good degree.

Speaker 1:

You didn't have enough paper for that, and that's that's another key. You know, we all make mistakes when we do ritual. All of us make mistakes, I don't care how good you are or what title you had. You're making mistakes when you do ritual. It's about how, how you convey the emotion of the people, and there's nothing wrong with laughing at yourself either, I mean, I mean, I've been in a lecture, in the middle of a lecture, and drawn such a hard blank. I've said to people you know what, you should really come back and watch somebody better than me do this, because this part is really good and I'm sorry I forgot that word, and then I'll move on to the next part. You know people like that. You're being real with them, I think.

Speaker 2:

I mean there's, there's room for for, for being lighthearted in a solid location With when it's called upon. You know when, when, when it's just there, you know you're going through it and just forget and you kind of make light of it. That actually might help you move along. And and one thing to To remember is that when you're in the sidelines, everyone is a gold member, a gold card holder. When you're in the sidelines, yes.

Speaker 2:

So you know, we get out, we get understand that the person going through it, at that point it's got a lot going on and this is again the Chamber of Reflection.

Speaker 1:

This is the first chance we have to make them think. Think about what you're doing, think about why you're doing it, think about who you are and who you want to be. These are important things to be thinking about before you are initiated into the fraternity. So hopefully you guys will take the time, go to the Square magazine, look at the 2021 article that Roberto Sanchez wrote about this, or look for any other really author Authoritative article on the Chamber of Reflection and educate yourself. If you have any questions about it, you can email us at Chris at on the level podcast. I'll get it to worshipful Garcia. I won't say your email on the air for the whole world here, because they'll just use it to send everybody a gift card request anyway.

Speaker 2:

We don't do that.

Speaker 1:

But you know, if you do have a question or if you have a concern or if you want to help us in any way, especially, let us know and we'd be very interested to hear from you and we will have another. If I can coax you into coming back. We will have another one after we arm ourselves a little bit better with what we can and can't say and really dig into the actual Ceremony of the Chamber of Reflection itself and kind of go through, we'll get to it.

Speaker 1:

All right. So, with that said, thank you for being on worshipful Garcia first time I only been too long to get you here. That's my fault, but you will be back, I hope very, very, very soon and there's been a pleasure. Thank you. This is Super Bowl Sunday, so I imagine you're gonna go watch some football now.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I gotta get myself over to see if I can co-play child out of the TV and let us watch the game.

Speaker 1:

Do you want to say who you're rooting for? Who's your team?

Speaker 2:

Well, I don't have a particular team. My wife is going for the chiefs, but I Guess we'll go for the chief.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they say in cremation we don't talk about religion or politics, but I think they should add sports into that, because I've seen people get About sports as they have about religion. With that being said, thank you, worshipful Garcia, and thank everybody for listening. Until next time on the level podcast out.

Exploring Freemasonry and Lodge Membership
Masonic Activities and Ritualism
(Cont.) Masonic Activities and Ritualism
Struggles and Lessons Learned in Freemasonry
Adoption of Optional Chamber of Reflection
Importance of Reflection in Freemasonry
Importance of Chamber of Reflection
Chamber of Reflection in Freemasonry
Future of Freemasonry and Adaptation
Importance of Masonic Rituals

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