This was my day - to take the first official step toward being made a Master Mason.
This first step was a ceremony to make me an Entering Apprentice. Just as a would-be stone mason began as an apprentice, so I began with this first degree of Freemasonry.
I realized after the ceremony that It wasn't anything I had done to earn a title. I hadn't achieved a goal through hard work or perseverance. It wasn't a personal accomplishment. I was being granted official status because of the good will and confidence of my Brother Masons. All I did was answer four questions and respond when asked.
Master Masons, some with advanced degrees and positions in Freemasonry, from eight lodges around the area gathered for a "Degree Day" in which they bestowed the several degrees on those making their way toward light and wisdom from darkness and ignorance. The most impressive part of the ceremony was looking up from a kneeling position to the understanding and supportive expressions of the Masons who had gathered around me. It struck me then that though I have a long way to go that there are many men who recognize me as a serious candidate and will support me in Freemasonry, allowing me to visit their lodges and answer my questions.
I felt during the event, just as I had during the installation of officers in Kirkland last week, the there was a genuine, manly caring between Brothers. There were moments where someone joked but it didn't appear to be putting anyone down - it was good-natured ribbing.
Another impressive part of the experience was that it did feel that really, the Brothers are all equal from the time I arrived to wait for my ceremony until the time we received final congratulations from the presiding Master. I didn't sense that the obvious hierarchy of position (Deputy Grand Master to a Lodge's Most Worshipful Master to new Master Mason) led to any patronizing toward this new Entered Apprentice.
As I contemplate the past two months during which I have researched Freemasonry, I realize I have changed significantly. Perhaps, it is first being encouraged to focus on my core beliefs. Also, I feel many values and opinions strengthened knowing that other men feel similarly and they reflect the long history of teaching of ethical, moral and charitable behavior. These aspects of a growing consciousness point out that I do have a long way to go - and Brothers in Freemasonry to help me along.