Loaves on the Chair of King Solomon .. A Masonic Fable
Adapted from a traditional folk tale By Andrew Bergman
<Picture>THE light of day was fading fast as Bro Henry Ponsonby-Jones hurried home from his wholesaling business.
He had just stopped off at Bro Charles Marsden's bakery, and purchased two of the best loaves of bread that had been baked all day. As they rested under his arm, he savoured the delicious aroma of the freshly-baked bread.
"G'd evening Bro Michael, I'll see you later", he called cheerfully, as he passed the Parish Constable, who was just completing his afternoon beat.
"My best to your wife Sarah, Bro Jacob, I'll see you later", he said to the bank manager, who was just turning the big iron key in the bank's heavy gate.
Bro Henry was walking with purpose in his step. He needed his wife, Matilda, to make chicken and cheese sandwiches for the festive board following that evening's Lodge working.
But as he passed the gates of the Temple, he remembered: "Oh my soul! My Dinner jacket! I have left it hanging in the closet in my office!".
He was at a loss. What about the loaves he was carrying? Suddenly, it came to him. He took the keys from his pocket and unlocked the gate which led to the Temple grounds. Then, he unlocked the Temple door. What better place to temporarily store the loaves than on the Chair of King Solomon?
He hurried through the Temple, quickly but reverently approached the East, and placed the loaves on the Chair of King Solomon, and equally hurriedly left the Temple. Carefully locking the door, he almost ran back to his wholesaler's business.
Just after Bro Henry had left, Bro Peter Smith arrived at the Temple. He too unlocked the gate, entered, and carefully and cheerfully began to lay out the Temple in the First Degree.
A skilled tailor, he had lost his job some months previously when a new clothing factory had opened in the town, and made bespoke tailors obsolete. Now, he was paid a small stipend by Grand Lodge to look after the Temple and lay it out before meetings - a job which he performed gladly.
It only took Bro Peter a few minutes to place the Working Tools in their assigned places, so he sat down at the foot of the North Column and surveyed his handiwork.
Looking East, he sighed, shook his head and sighed again.
"O Thou, T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:., I thank you that you have inspired my Brethren in Our Ancient Craft to give me this small job with it's small income, but I just wish that I could take home some bread, so that my children and wife might eat a hearty supper before I again depart for this evening's meeting."
Hardly were these words spoken, than the aroma of freshly-baked bread wafted towards his nostrils from the East. Puzzled, he followed the tantalising smell until he reached the Throne of King Solomon in the East.
He looked at the Throne and shook his head in disbelief, for there, nestling between the rich brocaded cushions, were two perfect loaves of bread.
Tears filled his eyes as he gathered them up, and slowly descended from the East, reverently pressing his lips against the V:. S:. L:. as he descended.
He hurried home, but not before carefully locking the Temple doors and gate behind him, and indeed, his children and wife enjoyed a superb meal that evening, and he kissed his children's smiling faces before leaving for the evening's Lodge proceedings.
Meanwhile, Bro Henry had retrieved his dinner jacket, and returned to the Temple. He unlocked the door and strode to the East.
Imagine his surprise when he saw that the loaves had vanished from the Chair of King Solomon!
He though a while, and reasoned, quite logically, that no-one could have stolen the loaves, especially not from the Throne of King Solomon. He could only conclude (as there was now a faint light burning in the Temple) that T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. had found their aroma so wonderful, that by some miracle He had taken them as an offering of goodwill!
Shaking his head in amazement, Bro Henry hurried back to Bro Charles's bakery. Bro Charles was just closing, but he eagerly sold his last two remaining loaves to Bro Henry, who in turn hurried home.
Well, the next week started as any other for most people, except for Bro Henry. Orders for fine goods were coming in from all over the land, and even from overseas. Ever since he had taken over the business from his father, the late V Wor Bro Philip Ponsonby-Jones, he had never had such a successful week of business.
As a thinking man, he could only attribute his material success to the blessings of T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:.. Could this be a result of the loaves he had left in the Temple?
So, this week, in stead of buying two loaves from Bro Charles, he bought four.
As he passed the Temple, carefully looking around so that nobody could see him, he unlocked the gate and then the door, and slipped inside to place two of the loaves on the Chair of King Solomon. He left as quickly as he had arrived.
A few minutes later, along came Bro Peter Smith. As he was laying out the temple, he looked Eastwards, only to thank T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. for His gift of the previous week. But was it his imagination? Did he not again catch a whiff of freshly-baked bread?
Hardly daring to look, to his astonishment, again, there were two loaves on the Chair of King Solomon.
This time pressing his lips three times to the V:. S:. L:., he left, in haste, all the way home thanking T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. for this gift.
That night, Bro Henry watched as the Worshipful Master opened the Lodge and sat down on the Chair. There was no reaction. The loaves were gone again!
Well, the next week was again a record for Bro Henry, so that the placing of the loaves on the Chair of King Solomon soon became something of a secret weekly ritual for him.
And as the weeks progressed, so Bro Henry's business prospered more, and Bro Peter's children grew stronger, ruddier and healthier from the gifts of bread which so miraculously appeared on the Chair of King Solomon each week.
But Bro Henry was something of a sceptic, so one week, some months later, he placed the loaves on the Throne as he had done for so long, and carefully hid behind the pedestal of the Junior Warden. He wanted to see the loaves disappear with his own eyes.
He had not waited long when Bro Peter Smith came into the Temple, and after reverently laying it out for the evening's meeting, he went to the Chair of King Solomon, took the loaves, and pressed his lips against the V:. S:. L:.
"Thief!" cried Bro Henry. "How dare you take those loaves! They are for T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. !"
"But, but, I . . "
"What is all this about?" A measured but stern voice cut Bro Peter short.
There, between the columns at the temple door stood V Wor Bro Victor Grey, an imposing figure resplendent in his Grand Lodge regalia.
Both brethren answered at the same time: "But he .." "But I ..."
"Wait," V Wor Bro Victor held up his hand. "One at a time. What is your explanation for calling your Brother a thief, Bro Henry?"
"Well," said Bro Henry, and proceeded to explain how every week, for months now, he had placed two loaves on the Chair of King Solomon, and they had disappeared, and how he had assumed that T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. had accepted them as an offering of goodwill, and how his business had prospered ever since.
"Yes," said Bro Peter, a little apologetically, and explained how he had asked T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. for food for his family, and had found these loves on the Chair of King Solomon every week, and had pressed his lips to the V:. S:. L:. in thanks each time, and how his children and wife so enjoyed the meal.
"Come here, my good Brethren," said the Grand Master, smiling.
Benevolently placing a hand on each of their shoulders, he smiled at each in turn.
"Bro Henry. You tell me that you have placed the loaves on the Throne, and they have 'disappeared', and that you are sure that T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. has accepted them as a gift, and caused your business to prosper?
"And Bro Peter, you tell me that every week, you ask T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:. for food for your family, and these loaves appear?
"Well, Bro Henry, it is my sincere Fraternal advice to you that you continue to place the loaves on the Throne each week - more often if you like - as a gift to T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:., for so it is.
"And Bro Peter, whenever you find a gift of bread on the Throne of King Solomon, be sure to press your lips to the V:. S:. L:. in thanks for this gift from T:. G:. A:. O:. T:. U:., for so it is."
"And so it was, and So Mote It Always Be..."