W.B. Jon Patrick Sage
Remember those Country Time Lemonade commercials? This stuff was supposed to be lemonade, but it was really more like a yellow colored, sugary mix. You took this great, sweet-tart powder, and added water. I would just eat the powder, and not worry with the water, that stuff was good. I think that it’s probably still around, but I don’t have any reason to go and look.
Now when I want lemonade, I just make it out of lemons…
That’s one of the good things about getting older, a lot of things, like lemonade, get simpler. Certain other things, have a tendency to get more complicated, at least they seem that way on the surface. So often are the times that we wade through life’s trials, without stopping to appreciate the smaller, yet all important points of reference and perfection. Let’s get back to the basics.
Anyhow, these lemonade commercials were some of the best advertising I’ve ever seen. They included all of the important parts of a good advertising campaign: creating excitement, inducing feelings, creating an urge to buy the product. This was accomplished by using the medium of television to excite the several senses. They were these great little numbers with lakes, and picnic tables… probably a tire swing. If anyone remembers exactly what was in them, let me know. What made them great commercials though, is that I can remember how they felt like summertime. The commercials made you feel like it was 80 degrees in June, even if it was only December. And you know what, to this day, if I think about summertime, that image of a pitcher of lemonade is one of the first to come to mind. In the end, good advertising, and life in general, all has to do with our senses.
In the Fellow Craft lecture, we learn, and hopefully– continue to learn, of the several senses, and their applications in our lives. The senses determine and shape the way in which we learn and interact with others, the people we acquaint ourselves with, and ultimately the direction of the paths we take. However, the senses, on their own, need direction. At the basic level, the sense of Hearing, Sight, Taste, etc. are only chemical and neurological actions, which occur automatically. It is our intellectual capacity and comprehension, having to do with the “adornment of our mind”, which determines HOW those senses influence our behavior.
Just as the television commercial helps to reveal the importance of our sight, hearing, and intuition, other instances play on a great number of our faculties, perhaps all at once. These everyday experiences, the ordinary and not necessarily the extra-ordinary, are what shapes us as men, and then following, as Masons. Senses will illicit response, but should do so only AFTER a certain amount of reflection. Just because we feel something, does not mean that we should automatically act on that feeling. This is where the part about “all the active powers of the soul”, as well as “subduing our Passions” comes into play. It is up to our sensory perceptions and our intellect to determine the next move. As the saying goes …Take it Easy! As simple as that sounds, it helps to explain that multiple senses, and our human intuition and condition combined will provide a true picture. To rely on only one element in that mix, is to virtually guarantee a failed assessment.
There are a lot of things like that, which involve the range of our human capacities. I always think of the sun coming up over the hills, out over a lake not too far from where I grew up. You can’t necessarily see the sunrise, because of the ridgeline off to the East, but you can feel it… and smell it too! I’m not sure I could really describe what that smell would be like, maybe a kind of clean, rustic sort of smell. If you’ve ever been on a lake at dawn, then you know how the new light kinda burns the foggy haze off the water, with maybe a little breeze in your face… and then you would know. When it happens just right, the early morning darkness, especially beside the still waters, can help to focus thoughts, and direct the first steps of the day.
If we pay attention, I believe that we all live through several “little” Middle Chamber lectures from time to time. These are occasions when our sensory perception is overwhelmed from all sides, and more often than not, occurs at the most unexpected times. What we take away from it, again– is completely up to us, and how we interpret, and then act on the situation.
This morning I slept in a little, I figured that it’s a Saturday, and I can do whatever I want. So I didn’t set an alarm, and finally rolled out of my rack around 0900. Now, since it was Saturday, I’ve got a little time to kill. I take a shower, and all that good stuff, and then get a cup of coffee. Then I get another cup, and head for the front door. Since it’s warm outside, another favorite Rite of summertime, for me anyway, is sitting on the front steps… with no shirt on. I get my coffee, and most the time, put on a pair of socks, for no good reason, and then sit outside.
So here I am, sitting outside of my little house, basking in the glory that is my over-seeded, occasionally dandelion corrupted lawn. And yeah, I’m thinking of summertime. The kids like it because they don’t have school, and I can’t blame them for that. But as for me, I like it for different reasons. As this year’s summer taps me on the shoulder, and says “I’m back again”, I’m happy that I’m able to see it! I’m glad for the way that the morning sun feels on my bare shoulders. I sit on the steps with a hot cup, and wander through some old memories of summer. I don’t know if anything else compares.
Sights, smells, tastes and sounds… feelings; all with their own little reference points, follow a certain time line that can often seem very far away. But they never are very far away, only a thought or two in the distance. Try and think back, and remember what made summertime feel like summertime, the very first time you felt it. Grab a hold of whatever it is, and keep the feeling of that sun on your shoulders. Breathe in deeply to smell the bouquet of dawn’s first light. Hold your breath for a moment, and look on past yourself out into the distance. Look on out into the morning haze, and remember the way that the summertime feels. I slowly exhale, and try to appreciate all of this so I won’t forget again so easily. I get up, turn, and slowly tip-toe back into the house, trying my best not to wake anyone with the closing of the door. I step into the kitchen, walking in socks that are now wet with dew.
While I was sitting outside, I didn’t hear Callimachus explaining the origins of the Corinthian order in Architecture. But, I did Hear, See, Feel, Smell, and Taste just about everything else. In that experience, I found my beginnings for what I hope will be a good day. I established my footers for the ensuing project, for the Work that lay ahead. But, we are never finished, the Work is never done. We must always prepare for the next phase of construction, the next building blocks, the shaping of our Ashlars. Each thing that we learn or experience is only a foundational stone for our next life lesson; in order that we may we plan, and build according to our Master’s design.
I am curious to know, while I am still receptive, could any more direction be waiting for me?
Have I gleaned all that there is to know, at this moment?
I think I’ll have one more cup.