By Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR
After what seemed like an eternity of petitioning, investigation and waiting, my big day came. I was about to receive the First Degree of Freemasonry, "Apprentice... isn't that what they call it," I asked.
"Entered Apprentice," said my dad, as we got out of the car.
"Sounds strange," I thought, "Why don't they just call it 'Apprentice?'" No matter. I figured I'd find out soon enough. I didn't know a single person in the Lodge, except for the men who had investigated me and the guy who signed my petition; and none of them would be at the ceremony. My dad didn't know any of them either, except for the guy he phoned to set all this in motion. Yet, as I saw later, they all acted like he was their long-lost best buddy — once they examined him and determined he was legitimate, that is. Interesting guys, these Masons.
A gold-embossed Square and Compasses adorned the plain glass door. I opened it to reveal nothing more than a long stairway. To the right was a chair-lift. The door at the top looked as if it was a thousand yards away. I took the first step... it would be too much of a cliché to turn that into a metaphor.
I didn't know what to expect. I knew, however, Dad had done it and it seemed to be such a positive thing for him. I just told myself to enjoy every minute of it and soak it all in; and I did. My excitement grew with every step toward that door a thousand yards away. I took that trip two more times — it led me to becoming a Fellowcraft, and then to the sublime degree of Master Mason. With each trip I felt the same.
Today, the trip up those steps remains every bit as exciting. When I open that door at the top I always find friends and fellowship. I also find memories of presidents, kings and heroes; and I feel the presence of Brothers who maybe weren't so famous but did their part to make the world a better place... like my dad.
I'm sure everyone who has taken that trip up those stairs felt the same way. Yet I wonder, "Why do I — after all these years — still feel that enthusiasm and others seemingly don't?" It's a complex question and I'm sure we all know some of its answers; but if we could completely figure it out, Brothers, we'd wear out the hinges on that door at the top of the stairs.