THE LODGE ROOM OVER SIMPKINS STORE
The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkins' store,
Where Friendship Lodge had met each month for fifty years or more;
When o'er the earth the moon, full orbed, had cast her brightest beams,
The brethren came from miles around on horseback and in teams;
And O! what hearty grasp of hand, what welcome met him there,
As mingling with the waiting groups they slowly mount the stair,
Exchanging fragmentary news or prophecies of crop,
Until they reach the Tyler's room and current topics drop,
To turn their thoughts to nobler themes they cherish and adore,
And which were heard in meeting night up over Simpkins' store.
To city eyes, a cheerless room, long usage had defaced;
The tell-tale lines of lath and beam on wall and ceiling traced;
The light from oil-fed lamps was dim and yellow in its hue;
The carpet once could pattern boast, though now 'twas lost to view.
The alter and the pedestals that marked the stations three,
The gate-post pillars topped with balls, the rude carved letter G,
Where village joiners clumsy work, with many things beside,
Where beauty's lines were all effaced and ornament denied;
There could be left no lingering doubt, if doubt there was before,
The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkins' store.
While musing thus on outward form the meeting time drew near,
And we had glimpse of inner life through watchful eye and ear;
When lodge convened at gavel's sound with officers in place,
We looked for strange, conglomerate work, but could no errors trace.
The more we saw, the more we heard, the greater our amaze,
To find those country brethren there so skilled in Masons' ways;
But greater marvels were to come before the night was through,
Where unity was not mere name, but fell on heart like dew;
Where tenets had the mind imbued, and truth's rich fruitage bore,
In plainest lodge room in the land, up over Simpkins' store.
To hear the record of their acts was music to the ear;
We sing of deeds unwritten which on angel's scroll appear;
A widow's case - four helpless ones - lodge funds were running low;
A dozen brethren sprang to feet and offered not to slow.
Food, raiment, things of needful sort, while one gave a load of wood,
Another shoes for little ones, for each gave what he could.
They spake the last: "I haven't things like those to give - but then
Some ready money may help out" - and he laid down a ten.
Were brother cast on darkest square upon life's checkered floor,
A beacon light to reach the white - was over Simpkins' store.
Like scoffer who remained to pray, impressed by sight and sound,
The faded carpet 'neath our feet was now like holy ground;
The walls that had such dingy look were turned celestial blue;
The ceiling changed to canopy where stars were shining through;
Bright tongues of flame from alter leaped, the G was vivid blaze;
All common things seemed glorified by heaven's reflected rays.
O! Wondrous transformation wrought through ministry of love -
Behold the Lodge Room Beautiful! - fair type of that above.
The vision fades - the lesson lives; and taught as ne'er before,
In the plainest lodge room in the land, up over Simpkins' store.
Lawrence N. Greenleaf