The Mark of a Mason

The Mark of A Mason by Rashied Sharrieff-Bey

The mark of a Mason is first and foremost that he honors his word. He keeps his word. His word is his bond, and bond is life; we should be willing to give our lives before our words fail. Think for a moment; what was it that *you* exchanged, there where you knelt, for the bonds from which you were then released, if it was not your word? Your word then stood up for your bonds, and stands so today. Just as a threefold cord is strong, and a fourfold cord is not easily broken, so must your word be. A Mason who knowingly and willingly breaks his word does not bear the Mason's mark, though he be in possession of all the 9º of the York, the 33º of the Scottish, the 96º of the Memphis-Misraïm, or any other system or rite; no matter how many degrees he may find spread over the wide world. He has already failed in the most basic and essential of tests.

The mark of a Mason is that he honors, respects, and obeys his parents. He does not embarrass them by correcting them in public, as if he had been their peer. He does not incense them by correcting them in private; there is no one to impress, and unless there is harm or detriment to which he or they might come, it is of too little consequence to hurt their feelings needlessly. He pays them every filial loyalty and duty. He honors and loves them in life; he honors and obeys them in death. He does not dishonor and stain the good name that they have left him with by words or deeds lacking in virtue. If they have left him a tarnished name, by his upright living he restores honor to it. That is the mark of a Mason.

The mark of a Mason is that he governs his household with discipline, but balances this with kindness, affection and tenderness. He is not harsh to his wife; he is not tyrannical to his children. The mark of a Mason is that his children love him, not fear him. His wife feels his leadership to be a grace and a benefit, not a burden and an insult. He never stretches his hand toward her in anger or violence. He does not cause his wife to walk the street in shame for the words and deeds that he has done; he does not bring embarrassment to his children, who must sit in school or work on a job, because of his unmanly behavior. He does not disserve his family by risking behaviors that will bring the consequence of his being deprived of the freedom to come home to them, as against paying the debt of penal time to the city, county, state or federal civil authorities. That is the mark of a Mason.

The mark of a Mason is that he is a friend and Brother. He does not say or do to his acquaintances, associates, friends, or Brothers that which he would not wish to be said or done to him by another. Moreover, he says or does to others according to what they wish, within the limits of what is lawful for him. He is honest, but not cruel. He is straightforward, but not malicious. He is kind to his neighbors, and gives them no reason to be afraid or suspicious of him. He respects and honors his elders, amongst his acquaintances, colleagues, and Brethren. He is not thinking of how to outdo and overthrow his elder Brethren; he is not finding ways or means to browbeat his younger Brethren. When he knows more than they, he is kind and compassionate in his conveyance of that, and when he finds them as yet unready for a truth, he does not seek to shove it down their throats, but yields to allow time for their increased experience in a future time, if it is a Grace that they are to receive. He recognizes that his knowledge and learning is for his personal use in improving his character and consciousness, not for exulting over others or seeking to merely impress them with what he has learned. His Light is in his comportment and behavior, not in the accolades that he accords himself. That is the mark of a Mason. It is the mark of a Mason to give an honest day's labor for the day's pay that he receives, once he has accepted that wage or salary. He does not seek out ways to avoid working, while still being paid a full rate. He does not sign for time that he has not worked - he does not clock in at 9:30 a.m., and sign for 9:00. He does not knock off early so that he can clock out exactly at 5:00, when he is being paid until 5:00; he recognizes that he is being paid for 8 hours of work; he gives it without resentment or grudge. That is the mark of a Mason. It is the mark of a Mason that he does not speak ill of others, that he holds confidences given, that he does not practice deception and trickery, that he is consistent, and practices patience and constancy. What he tells you, is exactly what it is. He is not living a double life. He speaks truth to power, and having spoken a truth, works within the scope of the consequences of upright choices. No man is perfect; Masonry does not make us so. But Masonry gives us a guideline of precepts and principles which, if assiduously applied, bring him nearer to the in-dwelling Deity within him. He does not make excuses for his short-comings; he works on them to break them off of his mind and character. He does not make light of his wrongs and seek ways to justify their existence. He admits them, if to none but himself, but he does not parade them in celebration. He acknowledges them, and quietly goes to work on them. He is not constantly pounding his favorite VSL on someone else's head; he lets his manner of living bear him witness. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive, and ever seeking and fostering conciliation between Brethren. In all situations, he allows for the possibility that there is something of which he is unaware that might extenuate a situation, so that he is moved by compassion to temper his judgment. It is in this living that the true secrets of Masonry remain to be discovered. The Teaching of how to find them is shown ONLY through the symbols, if we will stop reading long enough to contemplate them for ourselves, instead of ONLY reading what others have learned from contemplating them for themselves.

In all, the Mason lives a life of courage, because to stand for truth in our everyday lives is not the popular walk to travel nor the easy way to walk, and courage is *required*. The ancient Romans called courage "virtue;" it is the mark of a Mason that he has the courage of his convictions, and the courage to choose the right over the wrong, and the greater over the lesser in himself; to be personally responsible, personally accountable, and to not let himself off the hook. If a man doesn't live with Virtue, then he cannot be unitedwith anyone else in that which he does not himself possess. If he is united with no one in Virtue, then he cannot be inseparable from them in death. He has already died; he is merely awaiting the time and place to fall.

These are the marks of a Mason; this is what living the Masonic life looks like. It is my life's work to possess all of these marks, and more. I am not keeping score with you; I am not in a race or competition with any but my own G-d given sense of excellence. I am a Mason because of who I am inside; because of the essential qualifications, and this *must* translate into action: Facta, Non Verba (deeds, not  words). I consciously strive to be a better Mason with each day. The work done on your stone is completely up to you, and is completely your responsibility; no one else's. It is you who must present your work for approval, and none other. When your tools at last slip from your hand, and that curtain of death comes down over your eyes; when your tongue cleaves to the roof of your mouth; when someone calls your name and you are no longer able to answer, what kind of Mason's marks may be found about your person? I tell you truly, Brothers; they will be whatever marks may be found on you now, in your daily living.

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