These are unprecedented times. As I write this, we have just started easing the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 emergency and fear that we might be triggering another spike in the pandemic.
The parallels for me are when I was growing up in the 1940s under the watchful eyes of my parents. Then we feared the dangers of a doodlebug dropping on us from the skies, just as we worry now about the sudden impact of the coronavirus.
I was also told to stay away from certain families where members were suffering from tuberculosis, just as we are socially distancing now.
I also remember standing in long queues with my mother, clutching our ration book for the limited supply of groceries in post- war Britain, again mirrored by what is happening at supermarkets and shops today.
We were all exhorted then to pull together to rebuild our society that had been shattered by war and this is just what is happening today. We are seeing many examples of neighbours helping each other and great cooperation across our local and national communities. Freemasons are playing their part here, as reported in this special edition of Arena, with many examples of individuals supporting families and friends, through telephone and media contact and practical help with shopping, meals, and care for the sick.
The Metropolitan charitable response has been remarkable, responding to needs in London hospitals, care homes, and hospices. At the same time, we are keeping in touch with our brethren in Lodges and Chapters through the various conferencing facilities.
Most notable in this respect are the short talks and mini lectures to help us in that daily advancement of knowledge, and especially the rounds of 9 o’clock toasts where we can see each other in our home surroundings and raise a glass together.
I am sure we are all using our extra time at home to catch up on many of those jobs that we never quite get round to doing. Indoors, decorating and administrative paperwork have been tackled, while I expect our gardens have never been so carefully weeded and manicured.
This time also provides a wonderful opportunity for us to plan how we will manage our Lodges and Chapters when we can again assemble for regular meetings.
Five-year plans and the progression of officers can be considered, and alternatives for venues and dining in case the current disruption changes what is available to us. Most important is the care we give to our members.
Existing brethren must not feel neglected, so they remain eager to re-engage in their masonry. New members must be nurtured so that the long-term future of our Lodges and Chapters is secure.
There is much to do now and even more when we return to some degree of normality. In the meantime, Brethren and Companions, stay safe and keep raising a cheerful glass to each other.
Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 41 July 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 41.