Around the end of the year is the time to watch officer installations and I've taken in all that I'm permitted to attend. (Some are open and others are closed to everyone but third degree Masons.)
Because I'm a lowly first-degree Mason, aka, Entered Apprentice, I can attend only the open events, along with families and friends of Masons. So I went to all the open installations from the beginning of December through the beginning of January.
These are a good introduction to a couple of aspects of a Masonic Lodge. I've mentioned before the respect Masons show each other. It's apparent in subtle ways: tone of voice, body language, facial expression. It shows in the greeting of a Master of the Lodge to a first degree Mason as well as in the joking that goes on. Respect for Brother Masons permeates these events.
Meaningful to me also was the ceremony, or ritual. At first some of the words seemed a bit archaic, as in not used often in the vernacular, but not obscure. First, the words had meaning - they weren't just platitudes linked together with connectives. The integration of the words and ideas of the ritual are the basis of a profound message.
Occasionally a "performance" sounded like a rote and halting repetition of words half-forgotten. Sometimes they weren't spoken clearly - even an experienced ritualist can race through the text, clipping words and making it difficult to understand. But generally the performance was good and meaningful. At their best, the ceremonies were impressive and inspiring.
For now, I'm just an appreciative spectator.