Thank you to Worshipfuls Michael Neben, Russ Hennings, and Kenneth Bennett for presiding over the Installation ceremony. Thanks also to all the brothers and attendees for committing your time to be there to support the incoming officers. We are all humbled to have the privilege of serving the lodge as officers and our hope is that we can live up to the standards of those before us.
In the Installation speech, my goals were to lay out our goals as officers for next year. Here's the outline for those that are interested:
"Thank you to everyone for being here! I am truly honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve this amazing lodge. Saddleback Laguna 672 has a rich 95-year history resulting from the efforts of many great men. To be honest, it’s a little intimidating and I’m just hoping I don’t screw it up!
Unlike many of you here, I’m relatively new to Freemasonry. My son Johnny, as a very inquisitive young man, found Saddleback Laguna and suggested, “Dad, you should come with me”. Reluctantly, I said yes, and after coming to the first few lodge meetings, I realized that I was home. The immediate warmth, acceptance, and true caring resonated and enveloped me.
People are attracted to Masonry for many reasons: the fancy outfits, the rich history and tradition, the legacy of other famous Masons’ in shaping the world, familial connections, etc.
Others are attracted to due to Masonry’s enduring belief that each man has a responsibility to make the world a better place, and its mission to make good men better. These ideals are core to my own beliefs, and so I’ve found a home. For me, it only took over 60 years - I might be a little slow on the uptake.
We live in an incredible time. We have all the world’s information at our fingertips, using tools and technologies that are well beyond the imagination of our parents, grandparents, and founders of Freemasonry. Anyone with an internet connection can get a free education from the finest universities in the world, all at the speed of light.
Of course, misinformation is also spread at the speed of light, and we are bombarded with distractions competing for our attention. Politics, news, religion, and commercialism put wedges between us by imploring us to take a stand and criticize those that don’t think, act and dress in the way that profits them. In all this noise, the ability to discern objective truth from dogma, opinion, and pure fiction become more and more difficult to do.
Freemasonry helps us navigate through these turbulent times. It’s incredible, but I’ve found that when we take away discussions about politics and religion -- the two most divisive topics -- we discover what truly unites us and guides us back to what is truly important: our personal relationships with people and the world around us.
By striving to demonstrate respect, kindness, tolerance of our differences – whether it be religious, ethnic, cultural, generational, educational, or otherwise -- in our individual lives, in our lodge, and in the global community, we can have a profound influence in our world. These concepts guided the founders to create our democracy and nation based on the principles of individual freedom.
As you know, Masons are nothing without their symbols, so I’m going to add to the collection with the Endless Knot to support the 2023 theme of Harmony.
Found on clay tablets from the Indus Valley circa 2500 BCE, the Endless Knot helps us to remember that everything is connected. This symbol is found scattered religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. We may feel that we are separate from other human beings, but we’re all one. This keeps us in balance and harmony by serving as a reminder that, for better or for worse, what we do to others, we do to ourselves – and what we do to ourselves, we do to others.
Our goals for 2023 are simple, and based on the Tenants of Freemasonry:
Let’s keep Saddleback Laguna Lodge as a refuge of acceptance, free from criticism and judgement, by practicing unconditional love; help each other grow and learn from each other to become better and more compassionate men, husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, neighbors, leaders and members of our community.
Let’s expand our lodge and community outreach through more “boots on the ground” charitable activities to support our members, widows, and those in need in our community while we raise the awareness of Freemasonry by our actions rather than our words. Let’s continue to support the great work of the Masonic charitable activities of Raise a Reader, Masonic homes, Citizenship awards, and Masons for Mitts.
Let’s stay committed providing a strong education program to foster personal, spiritual and intellectual growth with a focus on the relevance of Masonry in today’s world.
To the officers and brothers: let’s set the example of how best to work together. It is our responsibility to shape both the present and future of Saddleback Laguna 672. Collectively, we can push the lodge to the next level by engaging more of our members and make a larger positive impact on our community. My wife Lorelei reminds me that “many hands make light work.” All it requires is for each one of us to make small contributions to ensure the strength and success of our lodge for future generations to come – the best legacy that we can leave.
And lastly, let’s have fun! Let’s celebrate our good fortune of working with smart, like-minded people striving to make the world a better place.
And maybe, just maybe, we can leave our families, our lodge, our community, and our world just a little bit better than we found it!