Date: June 19, 2019
Subject: Visitation Report: Alexandria-Washington Lodge #22, A.F. & A.M, Alexandria, VA
In a prior ‘trip report’, (LINK HERE) I detailed my marvelous experience of attending a Stated Meeting and Festive Board at Hicks Beach Lodge in the Provincial District of Gloucestershire, in the UK, last December. Recently, on Thursday, June 13th, I was an honored guest at the Stated at the abovementioned Lodge. This Blue Lodge is the one in which former General/President George Washington served as Master in the late 1700s. The Lodge is now based in the George Washington Masonic Memorial building in Alexandria, Virginia, not at the location it was at when George Washington was Master.
In the 1960s, I lived for 2 years just a few miles from this Memorial. I had a roommate who was a PM, but I was never invited to visit, nor did I attend any Stated in the building, as I wasn’t a Mason at the time. What a miss!!
In contrast to my glowing review of my UK Lodge experience last December, I must say that this recent visitation as an honored guest was very disappointing. I could have just left it at that, and not generated a ‘trip report’ to you, but the reasons I write this to you is to reflect on how our Masonic observances at Texas Lodge are so wonderful in comparison.
Let me explain three aspects. Sadly, I have to say that my experience in these three aspects at this Lodge visitation was far from satisfactory. Let me explain, further.
First, there is the aspect of being heard in the Lodge room. At Texas Lodge, we all speak loudly, when important, to make sure everyone hears what is said. At this Virginia Lodge, there was limited amplification. The Master was not ‘miked’, and those of us who sat as sideliners between the South and the East heard no content, compounded by his foreign accent in his English speaking. (I’m not being critical of his background, just that it was very difficult to understand him.) Disappointing, at best.
Second, there is the aspect of respectful perambulations within a tiled Lodge. When tiled, the work was rushed, perfunctory, and much too ‘casual’. Officers did not receive their jewels during the opening of the Lodge but wore them ahead of Opening. Officers did not address their chairs, the batons were not seated in their posts in any positional orientation, nor with any ceremony, and the communication with the Tiler was in full view within the Lodge, with the inner door open. Awful.
Third, there is the aspect of respect for ritual in our ancient Craft. I found it disconcerting that so much of the attention wasn’t focused on respectful attention at the Altar. At the closing of the Lodge, all Brethren were assembled around the Altar, the usual ritual was observed, and then, the jewels were just gathered up, rather summarily, and the Bible was closed as if by necessity but with NO respect.
If I recall correctly, the jewels were already positioned on the open Bible even before the Lodge was tiled. How awful! There is more I can say, but I leave it at this.
I share all this with you, my Brethren, in the hope that you will come to realize that we ‘do it right’ at Texas Lodge, and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of our Brotherhood with you!
John A.W. Densem.
Marshal, Texas Lodge #46, F. & A.M. within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California.