Have You Started Your Inner Journey?
As one is led to the door of the Lodge for the first time, undoubtedly, this is an exciting time for a new Candidate. The Candidate, for the first time, will finally be introduced to the Secrets and Mysteries of our Organization. The Candidate will be taught lessons by use of Ritual that will (if one gives an attentive ear) teach them their duty to God, family, and the world at large. One is often given a solemn warning that he has joined an organization that is far more serious than the Candidate realizes and that their involvement in the Lodge and the Order will unravel the mystery of our beloved Order.
Far too often though, this excitement which has been building up in the Candidate both before and after entering our Lodge all but fades after realizing that there is seldom any further discussion of the Ritual that they have participated in.
Often thorough instruction or dissection of the meaning of the Ritual is replaced by a monotonous discussion about bills and local charities the Lodge will be participating in or are currently participating in. Now, this is not to detract from the importance of paying the bills or staying true to our obligation to “Relieve the Distressed”. But is there more to our organization than paying bills and holding charitable events in the community and the world at large? Is there any real meaning to our Ritual and the things taught to us therein? Our Order in addition to “relieving the distressed, visiting the sick, burying the dead, and aiding the widow and the orphan”, plainly states that it’s purpose is to “Improve and Elevate the Character of Mankind” in the following statement:
“As an organization, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows aims to provide a framework that promotes personal and social development. Lodge degrees and activities aim to improve and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane; to extend sympathy and aid to those in need, making their burdens lighter, relieving the darkness of despair; to war against vice in every form, and to be a great moral power and influence for the good of humanity.”
For Members, the degrees in Odd Fellowship emphasize a leaving of the old life and the start of a better one, of welcoming travelers, and of helping those in need. This statement. Although our organization uses “Fraternity” as a tool to help Members to “improve and elevate” as well as “leave the old life and start a better one” we are not able to always be around our Brothers/Sisters all the time. Is improvement and elevation limited to just when we are at Lodge or around Members of the Order? Absolutely Not!!
Take a boxer for example: A boxer is known to hone and sharpen his skills primarily at a boxing gym with a trainer and others (sparring partners, strength/conditioning coaches etc.) but is not limited only these methods of training to improve. He must also train and sharpen his skills and abilities when he is away from the gym and others. If he does not put in the road work, or eat properly when the coach or trainer is not with him he will not perform at his highest potential.
This example holds true with Members of our Order. We must be willing take it upon ourselves to make the changes necessary to ensure we are truly “leaving the old life and starting a better one.”
This involves “knowing thyself”.
What does that entail? It entails making an honest assessment of where one is mentally, spiritually, and internally. Are there things that one can do better? Are there old habits that (although may not be necessarily detrimental) one can work to rid themselves of? How about new habits one can develop and create? What areas of improvement are there to be made? What skills or qualities does one possess that can be an asset to both Members of the Lodge they are Initiated into as well as the Order and the world at large?
What’s required after Initiation is not just a trivial attendance at Lodge but an sincere desire to improve ones moral nature and character as well as a earnest desire to improve the Lodge, Order and the world.
None of this can be done without embarking on the inner journey within oneself! Have you begin this journey? If not, what are you waiting for?
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