What to do with the summer following my first year in college? The world had become much larger. Possibility was everywhere. That spring I decided to find some churches in Florida.
The grand scheme was to get a job at a fast food place, and play foosball (table soccer) near a beach somewhere. Why would I need a church for that? I imagined myself getting to know people outside of religion who would need a place to find religion. I was young and I trusted that churches would take care of others.
While there was little response from churches, there was a response from the Baptist Student Union. Though I had missed the application deadline for the summer mission programs, a youth minister from the Washington D.C. area was coming to interview candidates for internships. I had no idea what I was getting into, but in fairness, neither did he. To this day, he remains one of the best memories, when I think about organized religion.
The summer was spent with students from every age level. Water parks, camps, late nights, and discussions of nearly every topic able to be imagined. A lot of good things happened that summer. So many good stories. So many good friends.
There was, however, a conspiracy floating around that denomination and its “thinkers”. Because the Free Masons would not divulge secrets, they became the focus of those that would blame the devil and anyone but themselves for misery in the world. People, with good intent, shared with me, papers and books. They debated what evil must lie behind those lodge doors.
Upon my return home, after being filled with all of the propaganda, I demanded that my father tell me what secrets there were. He declined. I lost my mind. Fearing for his salvation and our relationship. How could he not tell me, his son, if I had asked?
Eventually, I did ask the right question. I asked how one might become a free mason. His response surprised me. “Ask a free mason.”
What I found in following years, is that because you keep a secret, does not mean you are harboring ill intent. Because some parts of an organization are less than perfect, does not mean that the whole organization is evil. I became a free mason and learned my memory work from my dad.
We spent countless hours walking up and down his street. Him teaching. Me trying. Him correcting. Me trying again.
And how can I forget the day I was told all of the Illuminati’s plans for global domination and a New World Order?
Please understand that the last sentence is a joke.
There are a lot of good things about the free masons. There are some things I would change. I remember the times spent learning from my father. I remember his ability to recall so much.
My father and I have done a lot together over the years. He is a Master Mason, but he is also a master of fixing cars. He is a master digger of wells, master salesman, master caregiver, and master dispenser of compassion. I have been walking with a master since my first steps.
My father still attends church, which is why I have yet to give up on churches. My father still sees the good in the world, which is why I have yet to give up on the world. I am unsure what he spends his time doing these days since the death of my mother. We talk and I see him, but sometimes I believe he is affecting lives in huge ways from a secret lair below his house.
Again, that last one was a joke, but if you know my dad, you probably suspect it too.
I hear people speak of teachings from Masters. I continue to be unimpressed. For years, I found myself sitting with a master, and nothing about other masters, seems to make any more less sense. You may have to search for a guru. My guru helped me rebuild the engine of my first car.
We do less walking and more sitting these days. I do have to keep tabs on his climbing ladders to the roof for repairs.
And, it just hit me like a ten pound sledge. The reason I am not easily impressed with teachers and preachers, is that it has been my good fortune to spend my life in conversation with the best teacher I have ever heard. He has ruined me for organized religion, by his wisdom shared one on one.
I am walking with a master. I am but a student. And, just so you know, so is my dad. That is what makes him a master.