I came into Freemasonry a little later in life than many others.
Because of my nature, sometimes my thought processes are like a dog worrying with a bone, who ends up going round and round in circles. For me the need to find answers became a necessary road that had to be followed.
I had the, all too familiar, Entered Apprentice’s lack of understanding and knowledge – but with a desire to obtain both, which I now realise will come to me as my journey along the Masonic path continues.
Freemasonry presented me with much to think about and wonder upon and my early days in the Lodge were spent in pondering on what was going on and when the answers would start to be forthcoming.
After about a year or so, my understanding of what was physically happening in the ceremonies became better, but there was little deeper understanding as to the meaning of the ritual.
My Mother Lodge was, at that time, in the process of ‘recovery’ and not strong enough to hold its own Lodge of Instruction: however a number of the senior members helped me – if they themselves could not provide answers, they were sought elsewhere and passed on to me.
It is a great step forward that since my Initiation we have had a ‘Mentoring’ system in place and this provides a good initial focus point for new Masons.
Attending a Lodge of Instruction has proved to be one of the keys that have enabled me to gain a greater understanding of the meaning of our ritual and in making me more proficient at the rehearsal of our ceremonies – as well as giving me a route towards an insight into some of the broader aspects of Freemasonry.
Early in 2011, W.Bro.Geoff Rayner organised a team of experienced Past Masters to come together to form the core of a new venture – Cole Court Centre Lodge of Instruction, meeting on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of each month at 8.00pm.
It is open to anyone, from any Lodge, on a ‘drop-in’ basis and is intended to support Lodges that do not have sufficient numbers to run their own LoI, to provide greater understanding for those who have yet to reach the Chair and to give them opportunity to put their learning in to practice.
So how does it all work ?
A core of Past Masters provides experience, encouragement and continuity for those that attend and the format generally follows a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Installation 4-week cycle.
For me, one of the beauties of this is being able to volunteer for an Office at the next Meeting, or learn a particular piece of ritual, which then gives me a firm two week focus in which to go and read and learn my part.
Each of us that attend is allowed to go at our own pace within our circle of comfort. However, we are encouraged to step out of that circle and volunteer for Offices beyond any that we may be at within our own Lodge.
Some of our members are very happy just to attend and watch proceedings as they start on their own particular journey; others just want to practice the ritual of the Office that they are currently in, or that lies just around the corner for them.
No one is put in a position that they are not comfortable with and no one is embarrassed about making mistakes.
Essentially, Cole Court Centre LoI has developed into a very flexible tool that any Mason, from Entered Apprentice to those about to take the Chair, can dip in and out of as suits their needs, or attend on a regular basis and gradually build their knowledge of our ceremonies and all that follows.
I cannot end without giving my final thanks to all those who have provided me with support, encouragement and much understanding over the years since I first became a Freemason.
Full details, including the dates on which Cole Court Centre LoI meets and the various ceremonies scheduled to be rehearsed, are available from its Secretary, W.Bro. Ron Sharpe on 01932 88 22 58, or via e-mail email@example.com
Chris Webster, Villiers Lodge, No.1194
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