When I was a young man, a long time ago,
The secrets of Masonry I wanted to know.
Of a Mason I asked what those secrets might be.
He replied,"First, we talk, then we will see."
A petition he granted and ordered it filled
To be read at a meeting and a judgment be willed.
Then questions I answered about God and home;
Of habits and friends; a wife or alone.
In time I was summoned - a date to appear
Before an assembly of men gathered near.
I entered the building and looked up the stair;
Does pleasure or pain await me up there?
A hazing by paddle, taunting by joke?
My petition accepted or maybe revoked?
Introductions and handshakes welcomed me there
And lessons symbolic, an aid to prepare
For a journey in darkness, a predestined plight
To a Holy of Holies, the source of all light.
How well I remember what I heard someone say,
To enter God's Kingdom there is but one way;
Be ye naked and blind, penniless and poor;
These you must suffer 'fore entering that door.
The journey ahead is not yours to know,
But trust in your God wherever you go.
Then assurance from the darkness whispered tenderly,
"My Friend, be not afraid;
TAKE MY HAND;
With nervous attention a path I then trod;
A pathway in darkness to the altar of God.
With cable-tow and hoodwink, on bare bended knee,
A covenant was made there between God and me.
Charges and promises were made there that night.
Dispelling the darkness and bringing me light.
Mid lightening and thunder and Brethren on row!
Cast off the darkness! And cast off the tow!
In the company of men, a man you must be,
Moral in character, the whole world to see.
Trust in your God, promise daily anew
To be honest and upright in all things you do.
Each man is a brother in charity to share
With those suffering hunger, pain or despair.
The widow and orphan and brother in pain
Depend on your mercy their welfare to gain.
The secrets of Brethren keep only in mind.
To the ladies of Brethren be noble and kind.
Go now, my brother, your journey's begun
Your wages await you when your journey is done.
That journey I started, Oh, so long ago
And I've learned of those things I wanted to know.
I've learned of the secrets, not secret at all,
But hidden in knowledge within Masons' hall.
Childhood yields to manhood, manhood yields to age,
Ignorance yields to knowledge, knowledge yields to sage.
I've lived all my life the best that I could,
Knowing full well how a good Mason should.
I know of those times when I slipped and then fell.
What's right and what's wrong were not easy to tell.
But a trust in my God and a true brother's hand.
Helped raise me up and allowed me to stand.
I've strode down the old path, Masonically worn
By all Mason's raised for the Masons unborn.
But this tired old body, once young and so bold,
Now suffers the afflictions of having grown old.
The almond tree's flourished; the grinders are few.
The housekeepers tremble; desires fail too.
The locusts are a burden; fears are in the way.
The golden bowl is breaking, a little every day.
Mine eyes are again darkened, my sight again to fail;
I sense the Master's presence mid my family's silent wail.
I've laid aside my working tools, my day is nearly done.
For long I've played the game of life; the game's no longer fun.
Life's pathway ends before me. I see what's meant for me;
An acacia plant is growing where a beehive used to be.
The Ethereal Lodge has summoned from beyond the wailing wall
And I vowed that I must answer when summoned by a call.
Again I stand bewildered at the bottom of the stair
In nervous apprehension of what awaits me there.
Once again, and now alone, I stand without the door.
With faltering hand, I slowly knock as once I did before.
I pray again to hear those words,
"My son, be not afraid.
TAKE MY HAND;