A Mystic Master once said, “To visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan is the command of our laws, and a duty which we require.“
There’s not a better statement than the one above for a new Odd Fellow to hear. The statement is both a warning and an inspiration. You’re being warned that you have a duty, which is another word for work. And, you’re being encouraged to explore how helping others can improve your life.
As an Initiate, you are entering a school of instruction that will direct your thoughts and actions toward the service of others. You are now walking a road that is different from the mundane one you walked before. This road is the “Jericho Road.” You need to be prepared to receive and follow new concepts about humanity and society that for some may not be easy to accept.
Sometimes an Initiate’s deep-seated beliefs and opinions will be challenged, but it’s all for the betterment of our environment, humanity, our earth, and our communities. It is also for the betterment of you the Initiate, and it should please you to know that you will be placed under the instruction of other Odd Fellows who have walked the Jericho Road many times, and can supply advice and inspiration along the way.
Becoming an Odd Fellow means a new look at life and destiny. If you see the Order as just another thing to do because others do it, you will fail as an Odd Fellow. Odd Fellowship isn’t something that should be seen as a pastime to hang out with friends to only do some “hootin’ and hollerin” even though that’s an important part of fraternity. It must be seen as something that requires some level of devotion and work. It requires social and public service.
You don’t have to be overwhelmingly brave, strong, or inspired at first. But you do need initiative to use the skills you bring to the table, whatever they may be. Over time, your work helping others will show off the levels of bravery, strength, and inspiration you have–and these will be increased in your favor.
The first thing an Odd Fellow has to understand is that service work will launch them into a different world–and failure to grasp this has caused a lot of Odd Fellows to become disillusioned with the Order over time. They seek for the Order to benefit them, as they sit, and do nothing. Instead, you have to work for the Order to gain any benefit from it. It’s never been an Order that simply teaches or helps, it’s always been one that required work.
The more an Initiate holds on to old beliefs about the world, the more difficulty you’ll
have with the new ideas and values Odd Fellowship will expose you to. The initiate must come to understand that the new studies and experiences they are beginning hold the key to a new world of progress, both within themselves and in the world without. And as you work to change the world without, so you work to change the world within you. You must use the ax honestly and with precision.
Many Odd Fellows are advanced students of music, art, literature, science, or business. You may have advanced degrees in all these things and have recognition of your work in your field. However, through your efforts in the service of humanity you will see these activities become more expressive, more dynamic, and see them more deeply. You’ll be able to express new emotions and viewpoints in your chosen profession and even in your hobbies. Odd Fellowship has encouraged many a person to become life long learners.
You will enter into Odd Fellowship with a curiosity–wondering where the road will take you. At first, Odd Fellowship may seem strange to you and may show little promise and of little practical purpose. That is only because:
A) you have not found your place in the Order, and
B) you have not begun your work.
Again, some of this depends upon the skills you bring to the table. YOU must actively seek to solve both A and B. Do not wait for, look for, or ask another Odd Fellow to solve A and B for you. Once you have accomplished these two goals, the energy of the Order will begin to open up, and you will progress quickly.
Hopefully, these observations can help guide you to a more rewarding experience in the Order!
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Scott Moye is an award-winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folklore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas, and a founder of Heart In Hand Blog. He currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas.