Grand Master's Message

A. Gene Cobb

Grand Master A. Gene Cobb

Getting Unstuck from the Past

Billy and Bob were neighbors and friends for many years. Their kids grew up together. They worshiped in the same place. Hunting, fishing, and family cookouts were a huge part of their relationship. They did not work at the same place, but they served in the same rural volunteer fire department.

One hot summer day, Billy was lying on his back in a tight space doing some work on the engine of the fire truck. Bob was handing him the tools. Billy asked for a screwdriver. Bob made a serious mistake. Instead of handing Billy the screwdriver so that he could “handle it by the handle,” Bob gave Billy the screwdriver “working end first.”

When Billy crawled out from beneath the fire truck, he went home after aiming a few choice words at his neighbor. Bob said some “choice words,” too, and no effort was made to heal the relationship in due and timely fashion.

Billy and Bob instructed their families not to have anything else to do with their neighbors, and the relationship between the families died.

The breach in their relationship continued for 15 years.

It was anything but excellent until someone who had simply had enough of it finally said, “I understand how you feel, but so much has changed. Your kids have grown up. You are now old men. Will you handle the rest of your life like you’ve handled the last 15 years?”

I had no idea what would happen next. Would they be angry with me? Would their relationship get worse? I was less than 30 years old and I was not a Mason.

Both men decided it was time to get over their 15-year misunderstanding. Billy was the first one to apologize. Billy was a Mason. After their reconciliation, for the rest of their lives, their relationship was an excellent example of brotherly love and affection.

The lesson I learned from being the pastor in this Billy-Bob situation was that too often, people get stuck in the past. Sometimes, we talk about it so much that years pass, opportunities are lost, and futures are sacrificed on the altars of anger and pride.

Upon reflection, I also learned that when a Mason leads, excellent results are on the horizon.

The Lion and Pillar Lodge of Excellence will be a lasting opportunity for us in North Carolina to get a handle on education, patriotism, philanthropy, masonic membership, and ways we can connect in our communities sharing the light of brotherly love and affection.

It is an excellent opportunity to heal broken relationships that have no place in our fraternity. It allows us to move beyond longstanding misunderstandings. We can see the wonderful changes that have happened over the years not as criticism but as challenges and opportunities to do nobler deeds, think higher thoughts, to produce greater achievements.

How will we discover the ways we can handle the opportunities and challenges before us? It begins with this response: Let’s talk. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s be Masons. And then … Let’s go to work!