By J. E. C. Rafisura — Sr. Warden
Brethren, last April I had the pleasure of attending a Wardens and Masters’ Retreat in Lake Tahoe. It was my third Masonic Retreat, the first and second time were during pre-pandemic when I was a Sr. Deacon and Jr. Warden, respectively. The most recent one was different and not only because it was in Lake Tahoe, but because I attended as Sr. Warden. To me, it was crucial in my preparation for my progression to that Oriental Chair.
The trip up north was wonderful. My lady and I left home Friday at noon and had planned to take our time to enjoy the scenery. Midway to our final destination, we were greeted with amazing snow flurries and picturesque landscape. As we stopped in one of the Vista Points to adore the magnificent snowcapped mountain views, an older lady approached me and said: “I can see that you have a square and compass at the back of your truck. I am an Eastern Star member. I am so pleased to meet you here!” To each other, we felt like we met a family member in some random place. She then introduced me and my wife to her husband and niece. She had told me stories of her involvement with masonic activities and how she enjoys it. She and her husband did not know that there was a masonic event happening at Incline Village where we were heading. “Safe travels”, I said, as we parted ways.
In another stop (for some snacks and gas), a lady comfortably approached me and said: “ I suppose you are heading to the same direction as we are!” She then introduced herself and her husband, who happened to be the Master of Brentwood-Antioch Lodge! To my delight, I exclaimed, “it’s a small world! I live in Brentwood! It’s nice to meet neighbors here in some random Rest Area in the sierras!” Again, I felt the same feeling as I did when I met the “Eastern Star” lady. Such a wonderful and comforting feeling, to know that I have brothers and sisters so well dispersed around the world, willing and eager to smile and have casual conversation like family. Masonic brothers (and their ladies) are certainly no strangers to each other. I’ll will take this fraternal benefit any day!
As we arrived at our final destination in the Hyatt Hotel, we met more brothers (and their families) as the retreat kicked-off with the introduction of Grand Lodge personalities. It was an event where not only we learned from the knowledgeable speakers, but also, from each other. We also had the chance to socialize and broaden our fraternal network. Masonic lodges rarely have unique challenges. With common issues and problems, we were able to compare notes and discuss solutions and best practices. Also, the group was never short of “older and wiser” Past Masters who would quickly share their wisdom in terms of lodge management. In one of our break-out sessions, I was privileged to be selected as the speaker to share our group’s output to the entire congregation. As a proud representative of our group and Crow Canyon 551, I shared common problems such as membership participations, filling in the chairs, prospecting, among other things, and how collaboration with other lodges can help resolve challenges. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I thank our lodge for the opportunity to socialize with the brothers from other lodges and to learn some of the best practices.