You don't realize how much you miss something...
You don't realize how much you miss something, until it's gone. That's how many Freemasons feel with the often-mandated "stay-at-home" orders or quarantines in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic; most specifically in terms of the closing of Lodges all over the World. Freemasonry, in the eyes of many, has been stifled and silenced in the wake of the doors being closed on the Craft.
Or is it? Is Freemasonry stifled by the closing of Lodge rooms, the canceling of meetings, and the rescheduling of fish fries? Does Freemasonry no longer function since green beans cannot be served, minutes may not be read, and bills are relegated to "auto-pay," instead of being discussed ad nauseam? Is that what people miss about Freemasonry?
If it is, you are doing it wrong. Let's get that out of the way now. Freemasonry is not about paying bills and reading minutes. That is the administrative stuff, superfluous and ancillary. No one should be missing that. Necessary bits of business which seem to take up the majority of the time in our Lodge rooms, and have seemed to define us as an organization to the point that it is the butt of many jokes nowadays.
Others miss different parts of Freemasonry, which speaks to the purposes that each person has for joining, and later becoming an active member of the Craft. Some miss the fellowship. Being around a group of trusted and loved friends and Brothers. Some miss the camaraderie; sitting and eating and laughing with each other. Some miss the ritual; the words that symbolize archetypes inherent to our teachings and purpose. Others miss the education, learning new things through the interactions and discourse amongst and between Brothers.
The neat thing is, Freemasonry has not taken "a break" or been put on pause. Many are rising to the occasion to "innovate" (sacrilegious word, I know) and move the Craft into the 21st century. Online forums and meetings are ablaze with activity and content. Brothers and guests are meeting, live, and online, in new and exciting ways. Platforms like Skype and Zoom are being utilized to promote fellowship and community. Education is alive and well, bringing hoards of people together in a live, online setting to learn and converse, and share new ideas.
Will this replace the true, authentic Lodge experience? No, not at all. Should it? No, not at all. When performed properly, the Lodge experience enhances the soul, enlivens the mind, and promotes fellowship and a sense of belonging. But, in the age of social distancing, in a demographic with older folks, we have to make do with what we have left.
Freemasonry, in the hands of a small few, is moving forward. It is vibrant and alive, and adapting to the "new normal" in the World. Either get on the bus and come along for the ride, or sit around and do nothing. There really are only two choices here.
Which one will you choose?