The Scars Unseen

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner

Many associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with the military. It is understandable when they do too. A Soldier goes to combat, sees things that cannot be forgotten and does things that we are not proud to talk about. It is common to notice the distance a Soldier, Marine, Airmen, or Sailor appears to keep from the average person in society. They are constantly alert, watching every person to enter and leave the room. When entering a building their eyes clear every corner and find every escape route possible in the event of an emergency. It is normal behavior of a man or woman who has just returned from a combat zone. It is when this behavior continues after being home for long periods of time that we should consider that this young man or woman may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

The man or woman is constantly living a moment in the past that has traumatized them, so their
minds automatically adjust to the event in order to protect themselves from it happening again. If
our military members are mentally still in Iraq or Afghanistan when they are stateside enjoying well earned leave with friends and family— imagine what it must feel like for a Police Officer,
Firefighter, EMT, Nurse or Doctor when they are constantly around the places, people and
scenarios that remind them of a traumatic event. What about victims? That being robbery,
breaking and entering, murder and of course rape. PTSD can affect any one of any gender,
size, race, creed or age; it is non-discriminatory.

There are not many who are willing to talk about their issues. There are many of reasons why
they won’t; it could be they feel weak because they can’t shake it, they are afraid the person
they talk to will not understand and mock them, they worry talking about it will stir new memories
and make it harder to deal with, or maybe they are afraid when talking about it the caretaker
may be affected by the vivid description of what happened. Those who do talk about it are
typically people who have dealt with it, and are just trying to get over it.

This is one of the first times I am coming out publicly about PTSD. It has affected for most of my
adult life. I have talked to counselors which typically doesn't work for me. Simply because their
is a blockage in my mental state of mind that I am afraid of. They always say in order to get
better it must get worse. This couldn't be any more true. Usually my counselors just listen to me
talk and I become irritated. I feel they aren't really helping but making it worst because all I do is
think about the event in more depth and detail making my dreams that much more vivid and
lifelike. My mind begins to play tricks on me and I cannot separate the part of the memory that
actually happened or what my mind is putting in place to help me cope. I have talked to
counselors and they suggest talking to someone about medication, this I cannot do. I do not
want medication, I never have and never will. I rarely take ibuprofen for my damaged knee, how
would a narcotic make me feel? In order to cope, I have found my best fighting chance. Yet, I
am still scared to utilize my chance.

I use to drink heavily to help me sleep until I realized that could be a problem. It wasn’t in my best
interest to get drunker than a skunk, nor for the people around me. Since I have stopped
drinking so heavily (before it became alcoholism), I would just toss and turn every night until I
could sleep. This of course was never the best idea either. The truth is I needed help. I needed
to figure out why I could not shake the overwhelming feeling to check all doors and windows. I
know why I do it, but I need to know why I can’t stop. I need someone to talk to. Writing has
helped, I stay awake at night and write my heart away, but my best tool I am still afraid to use. I
am afraid if I tell Emily everything that bothers me, every single instance of cold sweats, or when
I wake up screaming in my dreams— she will be scared away. Since she and I have known
each other she became that comfort zone, however. She has shown me that she will always be
there, and will help me through my sleepless nights. I wish every Soldier had a woman with her
caring heart. I wish every person had someone by their side that cared as much as she does for
me.

 
The fact is, that is not the easiest thing to ask for. People with PTSD can push away their loved ones by their selfishness, which leaves them feeling alone in the fight. That doesn't have to be the case. We need to study the effects of PTSD more, find a way to help everyone cope. Brother Brian Schimian has brought up the idea to me of starting a Masonic charity to help study PTSD. Well, there are plenty of foundations outside of Freemasonry that push the study and the cure for mental disorders, specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We can help these foundations by raising money for them. There are benefits of it for the order, and for our brethren. For some brethren and their families the fight isn't over. Like I tell my battle buddy going into combat, “I have your back.” Shouldn’t we tell our brethren, the same?

  If you are suffering from PTSD I ask you to help me help you. Whether  you are you brother
Mason, a brother/sister in arms, a civil service member, nurse, doctor or just a victim of a
traumatizing event. The time is now to get help. Remember, you are not alone in this fight. If you
don’t have someone to talk to call one of the numbers below, they are willing to help. If you are
like me and don’t like talking to counselors or psychiatrists, talk to a loved one. If you can’t I am
always accepting e-mails from all my readers and I will talk you through what ever battle you are
facing. Sometimes it’s easier to know you're talking to someone who knows exactly what it is
like to lose sleep, concentration and live through the life of PTSD. So however you want, just get
help.


Veteran Crisis Line
1.800.273.TALK (8255) - Veterans Press ’1
PTSD Information Hotline
Phone: 802-296-6300
PTSD Sanctuary

~AG



Bro. Aaron Gardner was raised as a Master Mason in his hometown lodge of Flushing, Michigan. He has served in active duty with the United States Army for the last seven years in which he has become well traveled around the world. He is currently stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma where he is a member of Triangle Lodge #548. When Bro. Gardner is not defending the nation, he takes great pride in writing articles for his blog Celestial Brotherhood, writing his fiction novel and researching all he can involving the Craft.

Masonic Meme Mondays: Playing Catch Up

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert H. Johnson 32

Memes with a Masonic twist. Some say they are disrespectful to the craft, well, what's your opinion? Are they? I personally can't get enough of them. I have known of and used them for quite some time and for those not familiar with the term, it is simply defined as the following:

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek μίμημα.

A meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem)[1] is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural
 ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to 
another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable 
phenomena with a mimicked theme.

Basically, if you use Facebook, you have seen them and have probably shared them. For the most part they are funny but can be political at times. So, full disclosure here I do not know how to use Reddit at all, but every Monday they have Masonic Meme Monday. Some love them, others hate them and still even more say "they are destructive to the craft". So again, I love Masonic Meme Monday, and I repost them all the time. There is rarely one that one is created that doesn't bring me to tears. Here are my favorites and the ones which make me laugh every single time I see them, even posting them now I am chuckling.

I hope they make you laugh and to remember there is humor in everything, especially within our craft. Here is the best of "Masonic Meme Mondays", at least in my humble opinion. As we have so fittingly expressed, The Midnight Freemasons is the "Lighter" side of Freemasonry, or at least we try to be. Please enjoy the slide show below. If your browser or mobile device won't load the slide show, click HERE and it will take you to the album!






Many thanks to WB. Nick Johnson of The Millennial Freemason for turning me on to this hilarious phenomenon!


Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

1269.02 Miles and 3 Days later...

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian

A while back, I had the honor and privilege to take an impromptu journey, traveling East (literally) to meet a Brother, his wife and brother and explore the wonder of the George Washington Masonic Memorial. You can read about it right here.


A huge dog riding in the back of a truck
reminded us of this "movie star".
This time the trip was a little more South than East.  And a little more planned out.  The Brotherhood was certainly Bountiful.  I was able to travel with Bro. Robert Johnson to Doric Lodge No. 732 in Nashville, TN. for a presentation he was giving on the Colonial History of Freemasonry.  On the drive into Nashville, we did happen to see one movie star riding in the back of a small pickup truck…

We were greeted with open arms by WM Fraizer & Bro. Boone as they picked up up from the wonderful aLoft Hotel.  We received a tour of the TN Grand Lodge, which is a beautiful building and was previously a Scottish Rite Temple.  Bro. Johnson even took one for the team.  He knows, we know.  All I will say is, there is only one true Master, eh Brother?


Carved S&C
Grand Lodge of TN
After our tour of the Grand Lodge, we were shown around beautiful downtown Nashville.  Then it was time to get to the fellowship.  By that I mean we went for “pre-game” and were introduced to the “Prohibition Era” style cocktail house.  When in Nashville, you must visit The Patterson House.  Top notch spirits and all of their syrups, mixes and juices are made in-house.  They even have differently shaped ice to complement the different drinks.

After the eduction in fine drinking, we were off to dinner at The Southern, a Steak & Oyster House in the heart of downtown Nashville where we were joined by Bro. Cole.  The only thing better than the food was the conversation and brotherhood.  From there we were introduced to the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.  I am not too sure that anything more would have been able to improve on that night.  Again, we traveled hundreds of miles and found ourselves among family.  That is the best way I can explain it.

Monday, we were on our own for a bit, but luckily it was TN Grand Lodge week.  That means one thing, bling!  We made our way around the Grand Lodge meeting some great Brethren and picking up some wonderful items to remember our visit by.

We walked around the downtown area and checked out some shops.  Even drove out to the other side of the Cumberland River, around the Ole Opry and had some great lunch.  Check out a few shops out there and even a small museum that had some pretty interesting memorabilia from Bro. Audie Murphy.  Not only did he lie about his age to get into the Army so he could fight in WWII, but he earns the Medal of Honor then returns home to write an autobiography about it and then played himself in the movie.  The dude was amazing!  Bro. Johnson and I certainly had ourselves a good time and the conversations we had during the drive to, around and from Nashville were certainly of epic proportions.

Then it was off to Doric Lodge No. 732 for some more brotherhood and Bro. Johnson’s presentation.  While there we met SW Tyler Sanders, Bro. Kannard (with his wonderful wife and son), Bro. JP Clardy and even Brethren from Memphis.  There was even a PDDGM in the audience.  I know I missed a to of people, but there are too many to list.  Then, possibly the nicest thing that WM Fraizer and the Brethren of Doric Lodge could have done, happened.  Being that we were in a different Masonic Jurisdiction, we were treated to witness the Opening and Closing of the Lodge.  They did an awesome job and it was beyond captivating to watch the ritual, the same but different, being performed for us.  We even were party to some Masonic Education as they studied with their newest E.A.  We even received a keep sake from the WM, who knew a tiny piece of metal could mean so much.  We stayed longer than I am sure the Brethren’s “significant others” would have liked and discussed the future of Freemasonry and Doric Lodge.  It was really refreshing to know and hear firsthand that the idea of a few is the movement of many.

The point is, our family grew exponentially that weekend.  I can say that I truly felt at home among those Brethren.  Really, I joked that I would buy Bro. Johnson a plane ticket home, I was staying.  I would have to say that if you have the chance to travel, put Doric Lodge No. 732 on your list of destinations.  A Master’s Wage will certainly be earned.

To the Brother’s of Doric Lodge, I raise my Vieux Carre in your honor and in thanks for the warm welcome and fellowship and I offer this toast:

We meet as Masons free and true, and when our work is done,
The merry song and social glass is not unduly won.
And only at our farewell pledge is pleasure mixed with pain,
Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again. 

We Masons prize that noble truth, the Scottish peasant told,
That rank is but a guinea stamp: The man himself the gold.
We meet the rich and poor alike, the equal rights maintain,
Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again. 


PS - You are welcome for the snow flurries Tuesday morning, Brethren.  We were happy to leave you a taste of Chicago weather as we journeyed home.

~BJS

Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a father of two children."Start Square, Finish Level"

What Now?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert Walk Jr.


"Well, what now?", one of my instructors asked me.

Yeah, what now? Why don't you tell me? Brent and myself stood for our proficiency in the 3rd Degree two nights ago, and passed with flying colors. After we sat down, and were declared proficient, the presentation of the lodge budget was given. And as I sat there listening, I hoped it looked like I was listening because I sure wasn't. I wasn't really able to focus on the issue at hand, because the question was nagging -- what now? I think this question is asked far too often by newly Raised Master Masons, because the deeper meanings of the degrees are not ripe to be seen by candidates. That, however, is a subject for a different time, Brethren.

This particular topic of discussion is a difficult one to attend to at this particular time in Craft Masonry. It seems that on the sidelines sit all of the WW2 Masons that came in, because they wanted to have some sort of social connection similar to what they had in the service they retired from. There is nothing in the least wrong with this. As I've said on other occasions one of the things that struck me so viscerally was the rather deep feeling of Brotherhood I gained upon being Entered into the lodge. There is nothing like it..."this of ours." These Brothers grew up in a time where their particular religions and spirituality came first, and nothing else was to be broached on the topics that may step over that heavy rope.

At the same time, there is the question of why when Masons are Raised they never end up coming back to lodge after that momentous event. The question truly begs: why? I believe it is due to what was lost when our dear fraternity was given over to rote memory, mere socialization and charity. As far as I'm aware, prior to this influx of members there is a "brand" of Masonry that was practiced which educated, developed and helped the Mason to "become a better man." And this "brand" of Masonry included just that -- education.

This sort of education included research papers, discussion, and contemplation of the ritual, symbols and lectures given us in the Three Degrees of Masonry. These meetings were rather solemn events, with a deeply contemplative tone which has been -- please forgive me here -- lost to the blue lodge today. It is my own belief, and indeed understanding (as I practiced many of the contemplative traditions of the East) that were such an environment cultivated and practiced now, many of the Masons that didn't return after being Raised would more than gladly sit in lodge four times a month or more. Their expectations while simply a petitioner would have been satisfied, and they would have become -- given the proper conditions -- better men.

What now, indeed, Brethren? Do you have a part in bringing these rich traditions back to your local blue lodge, or will you continue to suffer the endless pancake breakfasts and stated meetings dedicated solely to paying those bills that come around every. single. month. Oh, these are surely important, please don't get me wrong. However, at a period in time where you don't see even 3% of your lodge membership show up for stated meetings, what is it we're moving toward exactly? I have asked the Worshipful Master of my own lodge to allow me to start a group for Masonic education.

As the meeting was winding down, and the Worshipful Master ready to close the lodge, my eyes were falling shut due to some fatigue and a hair's bit of boredom. I looked back at one of my instructors, and his chin was in his left hand. Looks like I'm not far from Good company. We wrapped up, went downstairs for a coffee and got in our cars to drive off. I looked back at my degrees and proficiencies, without a word to recite on the drive home.

What now?

~RW

Brother Robert Walk Jr. is the creator and sole writer for On Freemasonry and Humble Pie: a Wordpress blog dedicated to his experiences and journey from being a petitioner, to Initiation, Passing, and to being Raised. A dialysis technician being his main work, he enjoys writing, rock climbing, drumming and craft beer in his free time. He is a Master Mason at Jephthah Lodge No. 222, A.F.&A.M. in Essex, MD.
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