From the Venerable Master (October, 2012)

posted May 26, 2015, 5:33 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 26, 2015, 5:33 PM ]
Chuck Cowden
October is the start of our Fall Reunion. Five degrees within the Lodge of Perfection will be exemplified during the reunion. I invite all my Scottish Rite brethren to join us to observe and participate in these beautiful and meaningful de-grees along with those presented by the Chapter, Council and Consistory. Also, during the October Stated Meeting Dinner, Brother Orator David Kimball, 32 Degree, KCCH will instruct and enlighten us on the Feast of Tishri one of the most important ceremonies within the Scottish Rite.
The Lodge is Our Sacred Space Would it not be best, as Freemasons, to think of our lodge build-ing and meeting place as our Masonic Temple” or “Masonic Lodge?” Is not our temple our sacred space? I believe we should think, speak and act towards our lodge with this in mind.
Several years ago Worshipful Brother Barry Ellsworth, Past Mas-ter of Paideia Lodge No. 852 shared some of the thinking of D.M. Dooling on the idea of a sacred space. Ms Dooling, born in 1910, is a graduate of Oxford and the founder of Parabola, The Magazine of Myth and Tradition.
She opines that “very little seems sacred nowadays….. so what relevance can “sacred space” have for us today? The sacred has been defined as the “wholly other.” It does not deny our ordinary reality, but is its other aspect; it completes it and makes it whole or “holy.” It is the force that joins us to another level. A real force does seem to linger in some of the dedicated places of the past. The scalp prickles when we pass a certain ancient doorway; we shiver, spine-chilled, in such a spot as the ceremonial cavern at Bandelier; the voice drops to a whisper when we enter Chartres Cathedral. There is a sense of recognition, sometimes of sudden fear, on crossing the unmarked boundary of what Don Juan called a place of power. “
On a personal note I remember those kinds of reactions, when, after a long trip to Peru, I eventually laid my eyes on the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, upon entering the many cathedrals in Western Europe built by the great stonemasons of that time and while walking through the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. In those instances, I knew I was in a special place and that is the how I feel when I enter our Masonic lodges.
Dooling goes on to say “when we examine our own experience as well as the records left to us in earth and stone, we see that sacred space is not just any space; it must be de-fined by something and contained by this definition. It is enclosed by boundaries …. its’ boundaries are the boundaries of power. There are still many such places today. But what is the power with which they affect us? Perhaps it is mag-ic whose secret has been forgotten, but a secret still decipherable in the symbolism through which we are permitted to approach it.
The temple, dolmen, holy mountain, the ritual lodge or the sacred mountain or cavern, in one way or another, always seems to sym-bolize the form of the human being. “ye are the temple of God,” said St. Paul to the Corinthians – and to us. To accept this saying would be no light thing; it would mean the return to the outlook of the traditions, of religious man and his acceptance of a relation-ship which entails a heavy responsibilty. Even to consider it as a possibility would make it necessary to take a different view of the holy places, and of what took place there. The rites that were practiced in many, even most of them, we will never know. But, that is not the point, if we look in a new way; for we see the im-portance of sacred places does not rest in either of the two ways we may have thought of them before. They are not simply relics of the past that can teach us of other races and other times; nor are they the hiding places of magical rites which, could we discov-er them, would automatically create miracles for us. Their value to us is much more real and practical, for they speak in riddles and allegories off us and our own functioning.”
I believe virtually all Freemasons think of the Lodge as our Temple. But, do we always regard our Temple as a sacred space that requires of us a certain demeanor and reverence - a place for re-flection and to honor our noble craft and its lessons? We each have our own personal chamber of reflection within ourselves. If we use this chamber to reflect upon our ceremonies and their meanings and the teachings of our ancient masters it could be that we will be better prepared in enter our sacred space.