STB March 1993
By S. Eugene Herritt, PM
Cumberland Valley Lodge #315
As Short Talk Bulletins cross our desk to be
reviewed for possible publication, every now and then
one will be received that asks a penetrating question.
that is the case with this particular Short Talk Bulletin
entitled "Masonic Expectations"
As you read the Short talk, please do so from a very
personal point of view. Wherever the author says I, in
your own mind think of yourself And as he refers to his
friend "Sherry" think also about how many of us have
had the same kind of experience with a brother who was
kind enough to "take us under his wing." Every one
of us has to sit down and think deeply about the two
questions this Short Talk Bulletin asks! As you will
note the two questions are simply: "What Did I Expect
From Freemasonry?" and "what Did Freemasonry
Expect From Me?" This Short Talk will help us, as we
say to ourselves; "What is my response to these two
Impressions are interesting to evaluate and
reevaluate, once in awhile, just to see if they are
valid. The same is true of goals. It is imperative
in life that we set goals for our selves, both in
our personal and our professional life. It is
equally imperative that we evaluate those goals
periodically to see, not only if we have achieved
them, but also to see if they are still worth the
effort necessary to achieve them.
That, then, is the basis for this Short Talk.
After twenty years as a Master Mason I need to
evaluate the value of being a Mason. Has
Masonry met the expectations that I had for it
when I was raised twenty years ago? Equally
important in that evaluation is whether I have
met the expectations that Masonry had of me
twenty years ago. So, I tried to evaluate two
things. Does Freemasonry measure up and do I
measure up to Freemasonry?
My first experience with Masonry was when I
was about nineteen years old. I became
associated with an older gentleman who spoke to
me about Masonry and piqued my interest in our
fraternity. His name was Sherwood Griffith. we
called him Sherry. He was a welder by trade
and a Masonic advocate by belief. I only sat in
Lodge with him one time, but his influence on
my Masonic life has been profound.
Sherry wasn't family but he was close enough to
be and I only saw him at family functions. He
traveled a great deal in his work and aside from
his own family his conversation centered around
his travels, both professional travels and Masonic
His love of this fraternity was immense and he
instilled in me an interest in Masonry. He talked
about the history of our organization, its role as
an influential guidance to our historical leaders
and its place in the spiritual development of all
men who chose to be influenced in that positive
In regards to his attendance at Masonic
meetings he spoke with open pleasure at being
able to spend a wholesome night out with the
boys. "Fellowship with men." he called it and his
open and profound love of Masonry made me
want to be a part of it.
In reflecting on what my expectations were of
Masonry twenty years ago I thought about
Sherry. He gave me the basic drive to want to
be a Mason.
And just what did I expect? Very plainly, I
expected only four things of this fraternity.
I expected to enjoy wholesome fellowship with
I expected an historical education not readily
available in the schools.
I expected social opportunity by association
with the type of men I anticipated to be
members of the Lodge.
And somewhat ashamedly, I expected
professional opportunity. Sherry had told me
how doors seemed to open up for him, in his
profession, after he became a Mason, and quite
frankly, I expected the same.
I don't really know what Masonry expected of
me, but I found out very fast as I received my
degrees. Masonry expected me to be a man of
sound character and that I would improve if I
took its lessons to heart and lived my life
Looking back over twenty years and evaluating
the expectations I had, it is appropriate for me
to determine whether or not Masonry has met
my expectations. And in all honesty it has not!
Masonry has so far exceeded those expectations
that I would be doing our Fraternity a disservice to
imply that it only met my expectations. In fact I
am embarrassed to admit that I expected so little
of being a Mason, I did not do our fraternity
Let me explain my feelings here. You see, I
was impressed immediately with the historical
nature of our fraternity and the unique
perspective that Masonry brings to the history
and development of man. I wanted to know
more. That need to know was reinforced by the
fact that the men giving me my degree know it.
They had memorized it and rehearsed it and
wanted to make an impression on me about the
importance of what they were saying. They did
make an impression. I wanted to be able to give
a degree with the same skill and elocution that
they did. From the time I heard those degrees I
wanted to go though the chairs. I wanted to
speak to this body with the same confidence and
skill that they did.
It was at that point that I began to see the
relationship between my Masonic expectations
and Masonic reality.
The reality is that you can learn a lot of
history by being a Mason but you have to attend
meetings and do some studying and talk to some
Masonic historians. Its like anything else in life.
You get out of it what you put in. My job doesn't
allow me to put as much time in as I would like,
but when the effort is there the rewards are
beyond all expectations!
Reality is that a Lodge meeting is definitely
fellowship with men, but the key is what my
friend Sherry told me to expect--wholesome
fellowship with men. A night away from your
family perhaps, but in pursuit of something
worthwhile and something your family can be
proud of you for pursuing.
There is value in a wholesome evening with
men who share your desire to see good in the
world. These evenings in their company give me
hope that the world is not as bleak as the news
reports tell us. I find refuge in our belief in God
and in good. Masonry did that for me and it can
do the same for any man.
I expected social opportunity, and the reality
is that I did experience an opportunity to expand
my social contacts. But I have experienced more
than that. I have made some very good friends.
More importantly, I have seen what "good
friends are willing to do for one another. I am
reminded that social contacts are meaning-less.
They don't turn into friendships because of your
Masonic affiliation. That happens only if you
truly share a belief in the lessons of this
fraternity. Masonry, and watching good Masons
help one another, has shown me the value of
human companionship. Masonry did that for me
and it can do the same for any man.
Probably the greatest conflict between my
Masonic expectations and Masonic reality
occurred with my expectation of professional
opportunity. I believe a lot of non-Masons have
that expectation. The reality is that a man
progresses in life based on his adherence to a
strong work ethic and his talent to do his job
well to the benefit of his employer. That holds
true if you work for yourself, another human
being, the government, or serve in the private
sector. It is possible for a man to be considered
for advancement because another man knows
him to be a Mason. But if his work doesn't
measure up, or if he proves to be less a Mason
than first believed, his advancement will not last.
Good Masons won't let incompetent men
advance at the expense of their own reputations
or that of their fraternity.
This fraternity does not teach favoritism, and
we should not condone it. Masonry doesn't
promise advancement. It offers opportunity for
improvement, but the burden to improve is on
each of us. Masonry taught me that and it can do
the same for any man.
There is perhaps another reality about our
fraternity that comes to mind. Masonry is not
perfection and being a Mason does not make any
man perfect. We have made some mistakes in
who we have let into our fraternity and in some
who we have kept out. We have all met Masons
whose behavior was a source of embarrassment
to us. We were not embarrassed by our fraternity
but rather by our association with that individual.
The point is, however, we judge people like that,
not on their station in life, not on their
employment status, but on how they conduct
themselves in the eyes of the world and in the
presence of their fellow man.
For those who believe the lessons taught in this
fraternity we come to know, what I think, my
friend Sherry really was trying to express: there
is a sense of acceptance for what we are--good
men trying to be better, trying to make the world
better, and trying to help one another.
Has Masonry met my expectations? No,
because it has surpassed everything I ever
expected our fraternity to be.
Have I met Masonry's expectations of me? I
don't know. I know l try to be worthy of being
a Mason. I try to be a good man. I also know I
fail sometimes and that bothers me. But I try
again. Life and learning taught me always to try
again. Masonry's lessons have helped me to focus
on those things in life worth trying to achieve.
Faith in God, love of family and a desire to do
Have I met Masonry's expectations of me? I
don't know. You are Masonry and that is your