Grand Commandery Knights Templar Rhode Island & Massachusetts

From the Apartment of the Grand Prelate

In Templary we believe a lot of things. A whole lot of different things. The trinity of faith, hope, and charity are things (or beliefs) that spring immediately to mind from our very first steps in masonry. As we all know our ritual repeats these things like a mantra so that they become second nature. You (nor I) may not be able to list all the things we believe in, but like the innumerable road signs that mark our roadways, we know them when we see them and hear them.

Long ago, when I first took up residence in Massachusetts, I had to get used to some different road signs. Born and raised on the long rolling plains of the Midwest, road signs were few and far between and always in obvious places. On the broad waffle-like grid patterns of streets and highways there was always plenty of room to pass, pull-over, and plow the snow away. That said, the unfamiliar signs of New England were usually easy enough to decipher but one sign, oddly placed at road level, I simply could not comprehend. For three decades I noticed this unusual sign frequently in my travels, it simply said, “Plows use Caution”. Plows use caution? Hmmm…..Why on earth, I thought, do plow drivers need to be reminded to use caution? Aren’t they always cautious? Or maybe just the careless type? I doubted that, these guys are heroes of the road. No explanation seemed satisfactory and I felt too embarrassed to ask and thus reveal my Midwestern ignorance. Uneasily I wrote it off as either an unnecessary insult to plow drivers or an over-zealous use of signage by the commonwealth.

Then one evening it all became crystal clear. As I often travel backroads that go under the interstate highway system, this winter’s night, I was following a car on a dark and snowy/slushy backroad that was going the same route as I, less than fifty yards ahead. As he was approaching the underpass suddenly, from the top of the bridge, I saw what looked like a giant wave crashing over and through the bridge railing, cascading onto the car and pounding the hood and roof with a thunderous roar. Stunned, the car momentarily stopped, brake lights blazing. Realizing his windshield was still intact, he slowly motored away no doubt cursing the plow-driver.

It was shocking and I thought there must be some way warn these plow drivers, especially when driving over bridges, not to plow too close to the edge of the road so things like this don’t happen! Then it began to dawn on me that indeed the commonwealth had already anticipated such danger and had posted signs precisely to that effect! They even said, “Plows use Caution”. Eureka! Now I finally noticed that all these signs were posted just BEFORE bridges—not randomly placed next to the highway as a slight to plow-drivers! It all made sense now, plow-drivers may not be able to see an upcoming bridge (with nowhere to push the snow) and a sign in a strategic place could prevent a multitude of problems.

It is not so unlike that in Templary. We often cannot see the danger ahead or the danger we could cause others. It is comforting to know that there are signs placed by our ancient brothers to help us avoid the pitfalls and temptations of this life. They are there to help guide us on our path as we seek to follow the one who said, “I am the way, truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

To follow in the path of Jesus we need to swallow our pride (or stubbornness!) when we don’t understand things or find ourselves perplexed. That is when we are called to stay open and trust in His many ways. In like manner we should always take care to be open, particularly with our newest members in their quest for answers to their own lives. By doing so we educate, counsel, befriend and deepen our ties to our sacred band of brothers and rightly keep faith with our ancient brothers.

Keep the faith my brothers
Rev. Phillip R. Winders

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