[Square & Compasses]

Why did you become a Freemason?

Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 22:34:07 -0500
From: "Robert G. Pritzker" pritzker@primary.net
Subject: Why I Became a Mason

Dear Brother:

When I was sixteen, my grandfather passed on. I never really had a chance to know him, as I was raised some distance from where he lived. Growing up so far away from him, I never had the opportunity to find out the way he lived; who his friends were; what he thought or what he felt -- he was an enigma to me.

A few years later, I followed in my father's footsteps and became a United States Marine, but that really wasn't for myself, but rather it was to give my father the chance to live vicariously through me and to recapture the proudest part of his youth. Sadly, shortly before the end of my enlistment my father died as well. When the time came, I left the Marines, since it had been for him that I'd joined in the first place, and with him gone, there didn't seem to be any point in continuing on. But upon going home to the place where he'd lived, I found I had no family left, and ultimately no home either.

Penniless and alone, I left the place of my youth to journey to my mother's home, which was near where my grandfather had lived. For years I lived without friends and without any family that I knew, save my mother. Unhappy and depressed, a stranger in a strange land, I fell into vice and self-indulgence, hoping to fill the emptiness inside with something permanent and real. But, like a cup with no bottom, my soul was never, and could never have been, filled with anything but nothingness.

My grandmother had survived my grandfather's passing, and during this time was living alone and getting on in age to the point where she was no longer capable of taking care of herself. Soon the time came for her to enter assisted living and to sell the home where she and my grandfather had lived for fifty years. After the sale of the house, it became necessary to clean out the basement -- and it was there in the shadows and dusty cobwebs where I first discovered light.

Though I had grown up far away, at times over the course of my youth I had visited my grandfather. During one of those visits, perhaps when I was five years old or so, we were in the basement and he handed me a piece of chalk, and with it I drew a picture of Jonah's whale on a metal cabinet which he used to store tools and nails and such. I remember at the time him drawing something as well, and now twenty and more years later, I stood in the gloom of his basement, looking at my childhood picture of Jonah's whale on that old metal cabinet, and, curiously, at a small symbol crudely scrawled in chalk under it that I knew I'd seen before -- the square and compasses surrounding a "G" in the center.

I knew that this meant something, or perhaps I deluded myself into thinking that this small symbol was somehow meant for me and had been there waiting to be seen and understood for almost a quarter century. "What did it mean?" I asked myself.

Immediately, and for some reason unknown to me to this day, I had the urge to visit his grave. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that that was where I had seen this symbol before. Sure enough, as I parked near where he lay, I noticed a sign that said: "Garden of Masonic." As I approached his grave, I noticed something else: An altar of white stone bearing the same symbol I had seen inscribed in the basement. Upon his grave marker, the same symbol was etched, and I knew that this was somehow his way of sending me a message that I would only understand when I was ready. And I did understand, though it would be years before I ever thought myself worthy to take that first step.

From then on, everywhere I turned I saw that symbol, and everytime I did there was a stirring in my blood to follow it. But I never did. I had been down the road of trying to live for someone else once before, and had become wise to the pitfalls that are hidden along the way. But on my wedding day, I noticed that my new father-in-law was wearing a ring on his right hand which bore that same symbol, and there I took that first step and asked him what it was all about. He said that he would tell me in time.

That was three years ago, and on the eve of my third wedding anniversary, he brought me a sheet of paper and asked me to fill it out and sign it. I did. And three weeks ago, I was made a Mason. After my initiation, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of the older brethren and inquire if any of them knew my grandfather in life. Many did, and all knew him as a just and upright Mason, as they assured me that I myself now had the opportunity to be.


G. Robert Pritzker
Entered Apprentice
Bethalto #406, Illinois

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