California is famous for many things. Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, Silicon Valley, beaches, mountains, tacos, avocados. But it’s also a state made up of hundreds, even thousands, of small towns, each of which is distinctive and special. Get away from the big cities, and you’ll experience a very different lifestyle—one that can be quite seductive.
As a grand lodge officer, and now as grand master, I’ve had an opportunity to visit many of our small-town lodges. Just last month, I attended a degree ceremony at Visalia № 128, a historic lodge that exudes that small-town feel. (For more, see page 22.) People in places like these seem to really know one another—and that gives them extra incentive to help. Masonic lodges in places like that find themselves in a position to truly make a difference in the lives of their neighbors— and they revel in that opportunity.
Our small-town lodges may not have enormous memberships, but they do offer a blueprint for the way a small group can make a big impact on its immediate community—something we all strive for as Masons. A few years ago, the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise. One of the only structures that remained standing was the local Masonic temple. That wasn’t an accident. Firefighters rallied around the hall to make their stand, in part because they understood that the lodge was both an important symbolic icon to the town, and also a real community asset. Today, the temple remains integral to the town’s recovery and stands as a testament to the community that saved it.
Masonic lodges in towns like Paradise can’t hide or make themselves obscure. They’re obligated to be of service to those around them. That’s something every California Mason can learn from. By simply being present and making ourselves of service to others, our lodges can provide relief, improve their communities, and contribute to the well-being of their town. And isn’t that the essence of Masonry in action?
Sincerely and fraternally,
Randall L. Brill
Grand Master of Masons of California