Brethren,

It has once again been an honor to serve as your Worshipful Master for 2011.

We have always had a small lodge in terms of attending members. When I was first starting
out in Masonry, I saw this as a disadvantage. I only visited two other lodges my first few years
and they were small and struggling as well. I spent a lot of my early Masonic days feeling I had
missed the window – that I’d joined a dying organization and that the Masonry I had read about
had long faded away. The brothers seemed okay, but I didn’t know them very well and the
business meetings were incredibly boring. I just didn’t find any of those ‘secret arts, parts or
points’ that I had heard about. So, even though I had completed my year as Junior Warden, I
decided not to continue in the line and fell away from the lodge for several years. That was my
ill-informed mistake. Then a few years ago, a hole opened up in the officers line, and some true
brothers remembered me and asked me to return as sit as Senior Warden.

But something had changed in my attitude about Masonry during those idle years. The most
impressive change came when I had an opportunity to visit a ghost town in Colorado. At the
town’s height, it probably had no more than 400 or so citizens – completely isolated from
the rest of ‘civilization’. But there, in a small room above the General Store, was a Masonic
Lodge. I thought long and hard about the fact that these ‘country Masons’ probably never
complained about how their numbers weren’t growing, or that they couldn’t always fill their
officer’s line. They were focused on making and keeping fraternal love and friendship alive
in a hostile environment. We I returned to the lodge after my absence I vowed that I would
use that insight as the driving force of my year. And I have been truly blessed that all of our
regularly attending brothers supported me in my shift of focus from what ‘events’ we could
pull off during the year to ‘just spending quality time together’. As a result, I have now begun
to understand so much more about what the true ‘secrets’ of Masonry are – and they really do
have far less to do with the meanings of various signs and symbols than I had formerly believed.

By some evaluations, we didn’t do much during this last year. We didn’t have an awards night,
we didn’t do a table lodge, or run a CHIPs program. We didn’t have guests come in and do
presentations on community services. We didn’t even get a chance to host the Blue Lodge Council.

It’s interesting, but as we end the year it feels like we didn’t really do much. This
isn’t true at all. But all I really remember about the year is the great times we had sitting in
the ante room talking about Masonry after the meetings. Our ‘events’, like the Open House,
the Halloween candy give-away, our great degrees, seeing Mark put on his first degree, our
fellowship nights and all the other things that we did seem to have passed by in a blur. They
don’t stand out because for me they were just the backdrop of us getting together and having fun.

Thank you all for helping me realize my personal vision of recreating that small room
above the general store in the middle of nowhere. I truly feel I’ve gotten a chance to live in
that sacred space.

I could not have done any of this without the help and support of all of you who came and
spent time with us. Indeed, this year I feel like I truly achieved my goal of having this be ‘our’
lodge, and not ‘the Master’s lodge’. Of course, our Wardens, Jeff Bartlett (Senior Warden)
and Mark Stumacher (Junior Warden) completely supported me during the year. And, once
again, thanks to the consistent labor of our Secretary, RW Bill Deickler, forms got filed, bills got
paid, ‘t’s got crossed and ‘i’s dotted.

We did a couple of degrees during the year, and all of them were excellent. One moved me
nearly to tears and another one left me with a feeling of exalted joy for days afterwards. Now,
at the end of the year, we find ourselves with four new Master Masons and two new Entered
Apprentices. This growth in members seemed to happen ‘like magic’, since at no point did we
really actively seek new members nor at any time bemoan not having enough. I feel like Kevin
Costner in “Field of Dreams” – we built it, and they did come. And even more amazing to me is
that more than 90% of folks who came for the meetings stayed long after the formal meeting
was over, even on those nights when the degrees went long. There were many nights when we
did not ‘break up’ until well after 10:00 p.m.

I had tremendous fun working for you and with you these last two years. I’m sure you know
there is always a lot of joking about how a Master’s two happiest days are the day he’s sworn
in, and the day his successor is sworn in. While there’s some truth to that, I’m finding it’s not
nearly as true as I might have thought. I have so enjoyed being your ‘team leader’ that I feel
more than a little nostalgia at stepping down.

Still, I know that I am leaving the lodge in good hands. If he’s elected, and I feel certain he
will be, I will be tremendously proud to see Jeff step into my shoes, and I know that Mark will
support Jeff the way that Jeff has supported me this past year. And, of course, I will feel even
prouder if my son is elected to Junior Warden. I have the utmost confidence in these men, and
in the rest of the officer’s line from my year and for the line proposed, and I’m confident that
the momentum we have built will continue for years to come.

Thank you brothers for the opportunity you have provided me. It has been a blessing I will
never forget.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

WM Steven M. Hudson
Jerusalem Lodge #49
Ridgefield, CT

From the East – December 2011

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