Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Space Between

“The space between the tears we cry is the laughter keeps us coming back for more.” – Dave Matthews

If you are anything like me, and most of you probably are, keeping your calendar straight can be one of the most daunting tasks you face.  Most of us are or have been involved in more than one Masonic body at any given time.  Each of those organizations has practices, meetings, social events and duties all of which take up space on the calendar.  On top of that, there is your work, family events and social activities outside of Masonry (I hear they exist).  Add to that the parties, shopping, concerts and travel required by the upcoming holiday season and your calendar may run out of space.

I recently found myself on the way home from a Masonic meeting I had thoroughly enjoyed.  The presentation was thought-provoking, the ensuing conversation was spirited and the fellowship that followed were precisely the reasons I became a Mason.  I left there uplifted, challenged and proud to be a member of this great Fraternity.
Instead of enjoying that, instead of living in that rare moment where what I wanted and what I got were the same thing, I got in the car and cued up my iPhone to play the lines I was rehearsing for another event.   The Lodge building was still visible in my rearview mirror, and I had already moved on to the next event in the calendar.
In today’s world, we are too quick to focus on what’s next.  What do we have to do?  What do we have to buy?  Where do we have to be?  Our Masonic meetings are an all-too-brief respite from the chaos of the world without, but they are only part of the picture.  We need to use what we learn there to focus on The Space Between.
This is the perfect place to give you the OED definition of space, but I won't.  My reasons are twofold.  First, there are 168 separate and distinct definitions listed and that is just if you use it as a noun.  Listing all of those would take up entirely too much . . . space.  Secondly, doing that seems too scholarly, which flies in the face of the mission of this column.
Why is The Space Between important?  I’m glad you asked.
Firstofallthespacebetweenwordsmakessentencesmucheasiertounderstand.  Also, space in the form of punctuation such as commas and dashes – let’s not forget dashes – helps to add emphasis or change the meaning of a sentence.  Night, the space between our days, is where we rest and refresh ourselves in preparation for tackling the next events on the calendar.
Why then do we not enjoy the space between our meetings as a time to really practice being a Freemason?  Instead, we rush home or hurry to the next appointment not really cognizant of the fact that an opportunity may have slipped by.  If you left the meeting early and didn’t stay for refreshment and fellowship, you may have missed the chance to form or strengthen a bond with someone.  If you do what I did and immediately dive into the next task that lay before you, you would – as I did – squander an opportunity for personal growth and transformation by not allowing what you learned to have an adequate time to take root.
The Space Between is where you live your life.  It’s where you grow; where you can impact others.  It’s where the magic happens.  It’s the “laughter [that] keeps us coming back for more.”  What you learn in Lodge is what prepares you to make the most of life outside of it.
A Modern Vitruvian needs to use Masonry’s lessons to govern how he acts.  The working tools of the Blue Lodge teach you how to use your time, talents, and treasure, and the moral lessons of the Scottish Rite Degrees assist you in making the right decisions in your interactions with others.
Between now and the next issue of The Rite News, I ask you to pay close attention to what you do and how you act in The Space Between.  Don’t miss opportunities to show the world why Masonry matters.  Don’t drive off cavalierly and forget what you learned moments before. I encourage you to share your stories on what you’ve done or plan to do with The Space Between on the blog at themodernvitruvian.blogspot.com.  If you have a smart phone, you may scan the QR code to the right and it will take you there.
One of my favorite movie quotations comes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,  where Benjamin states, “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”  Every second of The Space Between brings with it the opportunity to implement the beautiful lessons that Masonry has taught you.  Interactions with others, moments of reflection and self-evaluation, and alone-time with your God all offer chances to make the most of the life we are given.  Strive never to miss the opportunities you get in The Space Between.  You will be a better man and Mason for it.

It is my hope that the space between the top of the page and this sentence has given you something to inspire, challenge and make you better fit to face the world as a Modern Vitruvian.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Read This Column!

Welcome to The Modern Vitruvian, a new regular column in The Valley of Pittsburgh’s The Rite News as well as the blog you are currently reading.  Since you read that sentence, I can only assume that the title hasn’t scared you away.  That’s a good thing.
Because you have done me the honor of reading this far, I will once, and once only, do the following: give a blessedly brief biography (avoiding all awkward alliteration) of this column’s namesake, explain why I chose to attach his name to it, and detail what I hope to bring you, my beloved Scottish Rite Brothers in each and every issue of this fine award-winning publication (and at random times in between issues via the blog, but I’ll explain that later).
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was born c. 80-70BCE and was…
You know what?  None of that matters.  The basic idea was this, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, or Vitruvius as his close friends no doubt called him, was a very early author of books on architecture.  In one of them, he described the geometric proportions of the ideal man.  Later another guy, Leonardo da Vinci – I’m certain his friends called him Lenny – drew the very famous, albeit immodest, picture of the ideal man seen below.  That work is known, quite creatively, as Vitruvian Man.  That’s it.  I promised brief and I hope I delivered.

Next up: Why did I decide to call this column “The Modern Vitruvian?”  That’s simple. 
Freemasonry has so many scholarly publications which reference our history (or histories since we really have no definitive, singular answer to that question), our ritual, and the beautiful symbols of the Craft as well as biographies of our famous and infamous Brethren.   What we have too little of (in my opinion anyhow), are pieces which challenge us as 21st Century (Modern) Masons to seek things in our daily lives that have hidden Masonic lessons in them and ways to apply our teachings to them to become more ideal (Vitruvian) men.  In short, I’m looking to find the Masonic in the mundane.
That is the premise and mission – at least for now – of “The Modern Vitruvian.”  How can you help?  I’m glad you asked.  This column will also appear as a blog at www.themodernvitruvian.blogspot.com.  If you do not know what a blog is, that’s okay, I’ll explain.  Basically, a blog – short for web log – is like a journal.  This column will be posted on the internet and will be interactive.  If what I write here reminds you of a similar story, moves you to share or has you so worked up because I’ve missed the point entirely, you may go to the blog and post your own thoughts for the world to read.  My hope is that we see some wonderful discussions there.  Time will tell.  When posting, remember the old adage “It’s okay to be disagreeable, just don’t disagree.”  Do I have that backward?
If you are too shy to write on the blog, you may always write me privately to share thoughts, musings or ideas for upcoming columns.
If you like what you have read so far, please consider subscribing and/or (preferrably and) and sharing with your friends. The more readers we have, the better the discussions will be.  As a bonus for those who do subscribe, there will be occasional columns exclusive to the blog as subjects and stories present themselves. 
Marcel Proust said “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”  I look forward to journeying through today’s landscape with you my Brother’s seeing with new eyes – those of a Modern Vitruvian.

Join the discussion now. . .

P.J. Roup, 32° is Junior Warden of The Gourgas Lodge of Perfection, Valley of Pittsburgh.  In addition to The Modern Vitruvian, he owns The Point Within the Circle (www.district54.blogspot.com).   He can be reached at pittmason@yahoo.com.