SAND, PEBBLES AND ROCKS
Rocks are the oldest, hardest and deadest of all objects on the face of the earth and yet there is not a man in this building that has not made use of one in one way or another. It may be that curling stone you use to try for that perfect ender, it may be the stone you selected to place on the third finger of your beloved's left hand, or perhaps it will be the stone that is placed over your final resting place. Why do we use stones for so many things in our lives? Simply because they are endurable, we know they will last but each one we put to use requires a great deal of work, knowledge and care. The motto of the diamond merchants is "A diamond is forever" and so it is.
Did you ever come across a stone wall, a stone fireplace or stone house and not hear the remark "that structure is sure built to last" or remark upon its beauty. We don't give much thought as to just what was evolved in placing it there.
I was once taken with two stone gate posts at the entrance to a home and I thought that would be a simple project for me to undertake next year up on my lake property so I got prepared by purchasing a stone cutters hammer, chisel and trowel and other items I knew were used in the trade. All set, come holiday time and away to the new task, not knowing the slightest things involved in the stone masons trade, just gather up a bunch of rocks and set to work.
God has endowed every land on the face of this planet with a good sprinkling of rocks so they are not too hard to come by, all shapes sized and colours. But they have to be fitted together to make a worthwhile structure, and that's the trick. So you take up the hammer and start to cut a face on one of the rocks, you hammer away and hammer away but all you seem to be doing is pulverizing the rock into sand. Rock is pretty hard stuff you decide so start swinging the hammer a little harder, now you got chips flying about like rifle missiles but still the rock won't reveal that beautiful cut face you know is in there. Perhaps a little irritated by now, you pull off your shirt and with a determined look on your face you decide to show that rock who is boss. This can end up in utter confusion, with a broken hammer handle, a chunk of broken rock in your shins or a piece of sand in the eye.
It's time to sit back boy, and figure out just what is going on. You think back to where you saw a rough stone and one that was all cut to shape and size and you remember being told they were there for you to moralize on. Who cut that stone? Someone who knew how obviously so perhaps that is the answer. You look around you and remember there was a fellow down the road a bit that had a planter for his flowers that was made of cut rocks so perhaps he would know.
So you start out for his place, not knowing who the man is or what he will be like. A stranger. But you knock on the door and soon a smiling face greets you and bids you enter. After making yourself known and the reason for your visit a grin comes over his face and he says "So you had that problem too" Brothers with the same problems - but he got his planter built. He volunteered to come over and give me the secrets of his success so we went cut to gather up a few tools and among them was a rather small stone cutters hammer. Isn't that a small hammer to use for cutting such large rocks I asked? It doesn't take much to form a rock into a working stone if you know the structure of the rock he said. Not wanting to appear ignorant, I did not answer but thought that all rocks were just rocks, there was no difference.
When we came to my place which now looked like a quarry, he noticed right away the rock I had been torturing and remarked it was too bad I started on that one, it was blue granite and had no grain in it so was not suited for a face rock but not to discard it as it would be fine for a base rock. Then he reached into the pile and picked out one that looked exactly the same as the one I had selected except it had a pink hue under the dirt. He pointed out to me that if you look the rock over carefully, you could see which way the grain runs then you make the cut along with the grain, same as with a block of wood. I could see a few lines then that looked like they were heading in the same direction. He took his hammer and made a few light taps along these lines and made a mark where he wanted the rock to part, then with a smart clip with the hammer and the rock fell apart. Beautiful and so straight. How did you know how to do that I blurted out? Just as you did he said, I went to a rock mason and asked. I had made a friend. After a few more words of instruction he departed but said if I ran into any more difficulty to let him know but I was first to get rid of that big hammer and use his until I got another one.
I was now left alone to try my skill and after a good many rocks had passed under the hammer, the discard pile grew less and the finished rocks came quicker, and it was soon time to start work on one of the posts. I poured a cement pad and placed the first stone where its cut face would show its beauty the best. The holidays ran out about the time I finished the first column so I went home till next year.
When I arrived the following spring, I was saddened to find my column was leaning way off plumb and on further examination found a crack had formed from top to bottom. I was heartbroken and my first thoughts were to tear it down and use the pieces to build a rock garden that didn't require so much skill. I could use a couple of logs for gate posts. Defeat. Non confidence. Give up. Lucky for me my friend happened to see my car in the driveway and came in to say hello. Conversation soon got around to the rock work and he said he was sorry but he should have warned me that the frost played havoc with a structure like that unless it had a good foundation, half a dozen holes drilled with an auger below the frost line and filled with concrete for the pad to sit on would have made a good foundation for the column to sit on and would have prevented the loss.
So I learned lesson two and started all over again knowing that this time the column would remain erect and be a thing of lasting beauty. At the end of the season I sat back and looked at my handiwork, and it suddenly came to me, this is what our lodge back home is striving for, we are Masons, using rocks for one of our symbols and trying to build a structure of beauty that will last. The stones we work are everywhere but we must check them over carefully to see if the grain is right to make a good building stone. We can't beat the stone into the shape we desire but it must be patterned with a gentle but firm hand, a hand that knows where and how to make the impression so it will fit into the wall where stone is bonded to stone with a mortar of sand and cement on a foundation that is built to last.
All stones are not suited for building work, nor are all men suited for Masonry, some stones are made for hard work like diamonds for drilling and cutting and can cut and polish the hardest substances. Other pebbles on the beach can be tumbled and polished and made into beautiful ornaments, no stone or pebble is absolutely useless but if someone takes the time and care it can be fashioned into a useful object.
What is the first thing man wanted off the face of the moon? Rocks. These he brought back with the utmost care, cut them, polished them and placed them in the most important museums where they can be preserved forever for people to look upon and ponder on the vastness of the universe and the wondrous works of the Almighty.
Freemasonry has stood as a stone wall for many a century, withstanding storms and outside forces trying to crush it but it has been built on a solid foundation of the finest materials, bonded together with a cement of friendship, brotherly love and fellowship that will keep it standing for our sons to admire and moralize on for generation to generation. King Solomons temple was said to be the most perfect structure ever to be built and at the initiation ceremony we were made to represent the corner stone of a temple which we are to build of ourselves. May that temple be as perfect as we are capable of and a structure the people of your community are proud of. Every community can have a cairn, monument or wall that is a credit to their community, and that is the Masonic Order.
These research and education meetings we are putting on each month are helping to preserve that structure and I would like to make this challenge to you, whenever you see a stone structure or have anything to do with stones or rocks, try to bring back to your memory this thought, I was selected to be a part of a great structure and I don't want it to crumble due to my falling away. Every stone selected plays an important part and any stone that falls from the wall makes the structure weak. We all know our lodge is the finest there is and it is up to each one of us to preserve it until time is no more.