by WB Steve Osborn
SINCE that evening you first stood in the NE corner
of the Lodge, you have been presented with many
working tools, from the twenty-four inch gauge and
common gavel to the instruments that help us to
understand the universe and guide our way by the stars.
You have heard many lectures on them and their uses, but
how much thought do we give to them?
How many of us have watched a sculptor at work,
for instance? He takes a piece of wood, or a block of stone
and studies it. Finally, he finds the key to release the
beauty in it and he begins to work. He starts out with crude
tools, an axe and an adz, or a course stone splitting chisel
and mallet and begins trimming away big chunks, pausing
every once in a while to consider, then continuing to hack
and hew. Eventually, a blocky form begins to emerge,
recognizable even to the casual viewer.
Then he begins to use finer tools, draw knife,
framing chisels or finer stone chisels with lighter, more
manageable mallets for finer control. The actual image
begins to form. The sculptor now works slower and more
carefully. As the figure becomes more distinct, the sculptor
picks yet finer tools, until he is working with fine chisels,
carving knives, spokeshaves and sandpaper, or the
equivalent in stone working tools.
Finally, the sculptor steps back and before him is
the figure which, at the outset, only he could see, but is
now revealed to all our eyes. To the sculptor, it is no great
feat, but to us it is akin to magic. Leonardo is reputed to
have answered the question as to how he carved a
particular piece from a block of marble. “I simply remove
all of the stone that doesn’t look like an elephant.” Simple
for him, nearly impossible for us.
We are to a great degree, the tools in the hands of
the GAOTU, but we are self-acting tools, so we
have more responsibility. We receive direction from our
teachings, our reading, our ritual, but it is up to us to
perfect that rough ashlar. We must keep ourselves sharp
and learn to strike true. We must learn to recognize what
is superfluous, and what is part of the sculpture. How
many apprentices have spoiled a block of marble by a
wrong blow? We must learn to be guided by the plan of the
GAOTU as we shape ourselves and our world to
fit into that perfect edifice, not made by hands...
If we study and reflect upon our oaths and the
teachings of Masonry, Scottish Rite and York Masonry; if
we keep these teachings before us always in our daily lives and in our interactions with the world, we cannot help but
make at least our particular corner of the world a better
place, and an example for others to follow.
So, my Brethren, may we always keep ourselves
sharp, cutting within the boundaries of the lines laid out by
the instruments of our craft and being careful not to spoil
the Great Work by a careless mis-strike. If we can learn to
do this, then we can truly become a part of that great