By Andrew Hawes — Sr. Warden
The most important thing in my life happened in January- I was born! It’s held a special place in my heart ever since.
January is about new beginnings for many people – the new year comes and with it come new year’s resolutions, to improve ourselves in some ways: to lose weight, to earn that promotion, to perfect our ritual, to name a few. It’s important to make resolutions in life, resolve is an often-underutilized and sometimes underappreciated thing. While the traditional “New Year’s Resolution” often is treated WITHOUT much resolve, having the determination to see through your commitments is a key component of being a Mason.
Keep your promises. Don’t promise things that you cannot deliver. When you give your word, make it mean something – be resolute in keeping your word, not just to your brothers, friends, family – to everyone, and anyone. Resolve is often the biggest component of personal integrity- if something needs to be done, and you’re the one who’s supposed to do it, you should resolve yourself to getting it done.
When I went camping as a boy, I was taught to “leave a campground cleaner than you found it.” Especially as a youth, cleaning up a camp site was one of the last things I wanted to do at the end of a fun and tiring weekend of hiking – but I had to do it, had to MAKE myself do it, because we had resolved to keep to that goal, of leaving things better than we found them.
This is a lesson that I’ve taken to heart, and tried to apply to everything in life, not just camping – try to leave everything better than you found it. If you make some food in the kitchen – make sure you clean up after yourself, and maybe after someone else. If you’re walking on the sidewalk and see a piece of litter that someone else dropped – pick it up and throw it out. This isn’t automatic for most of us, it’s not intuitive, it’s not fun… which is why it requires resolve.
I have resolved to leave this world a better place than the one I came into, back in January of 1972. I could much more easily give up on that than see it through. It’s easier to just not worry about helping out, cleaning up, and so on- but part of bettering my world is bettering myself, and staying resolute in my commitment to do things the right way. I am a Mason, and my intent is to help myself, my lodge, and Masonry in general improve through my actions. When I “leave” masonry, and move on to whatever awaits me in that undiscovered country, I hope that I can feel confident that I’ve left the world “cleaner than I found it.”
As this new year starts, should you feel inspired to make a resolution, try to make one that you feel you can hold to. Don’t resolve to win the lottery, or something else entirely out of your control. You don’t need to make a big resolution, one that will truly test your resolve, and which you may not achieve – “I’ll become president in 2024” is something that very few of us can manage, no matter how much resolve we may have. Instead, this month, resolve to do something that isn’t that hard, and is in your power. Perhaps to do a small kindness to a random stranger every week this year. Put it on your calendar, and commit yourself to achieving it. Try to be resolute enough to stick with it. Here’s hoping we all can. A study house is not crafted in one fell swoop- we lay each brick down, one by one, and through persistent effort over time, the house takes shape.
Happy New Year, Brethren!