posted on Jun, 29 2012 @ 09:26 AM
So, Florida has a Shriner's hospital, and I became interested in visiting it, but I learned they do not have a burn unit. It is an orthoepedic
hospital. Time passed, I ended up divorced from that wife, and met my current wife, and she is such a wonderful woman, from a wonderful family, and
it was something I'd never experienced before. The more I got to know her family, the more amazed I was. She is open-minded in every way, but also
spiritual. She has a clear and apparent moral code, but she is in no way a prude. I have never met anyone like her. She can talk openly about sex,
or religion, or politics, even with her parents or strangers. Most of the things she does are done with a matter-of-fact quality to them. No games,
no weirdness. It is so refreshing to be around her and her family, and then one day I discovered her Dad is a Mason and a Shriner, and her Mom is in
the Daughter's of the Nile. I started asking about the burn hospitals, and how I could volunteer, etc. I wasn't really interested in becoming a
Mason or Shriner, I just wanted to visit the hospitals. Her father is the same "matter-of-fact" fellow that his daughter is. Very clear answers,
lots of good advice, open and willing to help in any way, but he never once suggested I become a Mason.
Hanging around her family, I ended up meeting many other Masons and Shriners, and eventually one of them asked why I wasn't a Mason. I relayed some
of my past experience with Masons, and they were shocked. They completely understood, and still never suggested I become one, they were just curious
why I wasn't already one. More time passed, and the closer I became to all of the family and family friends, the more I appreciated what they were,
what they stood for, and what good they were doing for each other and their community.
One day I asked my father-in-law, "How does one become a Mason?" He said, "They have to know one." I laughed and said I think I know a few, how
do I get the ball rolling? He said I had to ask the right questions. This back and forth went on for quite a while, and he had some fun with me, and
his best buddy got involved, and they asked if I'd ever ridden a goat before, etc., etc. At some point they both got serious and said, "Seriously,
all you have to do is ask. We don't recruit, so if you want to become a Mason, you just have to let someone know. I told them I wanted an
application, and the ball was rolling.
Now, I'm a fairly skeptical person, I've been wronged before, I've been in hundreds of fights, I've been robbed, I'm not all that trusting of a
person, but I know I can handle myself in any situation. I have to be honest, when 3 men came to my apartment to interview me, I was a little
worried, and when they scheduled my first degree, told me to wear clean socks and underwear, and not bring any weapons, I was a LOT WORRIED! When
they wanted to blindfold me, I almost walked out.
It was a weeknight in the winter, already well past dark, a bunch of old men standing around an old musty building on a side street off the main drag.
I was the only candidate there. There was a sword by the front chair next to the entry door. There were ropes, blindfolds, old pajamas that didn't
fit, and they wanted me stripped down, barefoot, blindfolded with a rope around me. I swear I walked to the door to leave a half-dozen times. I
trusted my father-in-law and his best friend, but I didn't know any of the rest of the guys. I stuck my head in the Lodgeroom and found the exits.
If there hadn't been an exit door at the opposite end of the room, I would have never gone through with it. I looked over the 15 men that were in
attendance and I sized them up. They were mostly older and smaller than me, but there were a couple that looked like they could handle themselves, so
I took note of their voices. I was honestly very scared, and prepared for anything when I finally let them lead me into the room.
The Masons here will know what happens when you are "received" into the room, and that set my mind at ease, because what they were saying in
comparison to what they were actually doing was pretty tame. I started to suspect it was all for show. Still, I kept track of where I was in the
room by mapping it in my head as I walked and turned, I wanted to know at all times where those exits were!
When all was said and done, the EA was finished, and they asked me if I'd like to say a few words. I almost cried. It was close to midnight, there
were a bunch of very old men that had driven in and spent their evening putting one guy through the EA degree. Some of them had a 40 mile drive back
to their homes. They had each said wonderful things to me, and they were obviously so pleased to have a new young Mason among them, and at the time I
was the youngest in the Lodge, and I was already 31! I've never met a more sincere and kind group of men, and in the 6 years since then it has only
gotten better and better!