Andrew M. Stern, 32
Newport, Kentucky

One Freemasonís experience shows it is never too late to become a Freemason.

It took quite a while for me to arrive at the door of Masonry. Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge and my reticence to be a joiner deprived me of years of our Craftís marvelous moral, intellectual, and emotional benefits.

Oh, I was plenty busy before I adopted the Square and Compasses as my guide. I joined the Marine Corps, fought in Vietnam, graduated from college and law school, started a family, and worked a variety of jobs.

And then, one day, what little I knew of Masonry finally prompted me to make a call to a number I found in the telephone directory. It happened to be to the Scottish Rite Temple in Covington, Kentucky, a Valley in which I now proudly claim membership. I was given the name of a fellow lawyer, a man I liked and respected, who ultimately signed my petition for my hometown Lodge. I had no prior knowledge that this man was a Mason and had reached the 33rd Degree. Thank you, Brother Stan, for guiding me to the door.

I was duly visited. Three distinguished men came to my home, one of them a physician who had been the M.W. Grand Master of Kentucky. I had known and respected him for years, but had no idea he was a Mason with such a record of service to the Fraternity. Thank you Bros. John, Ben, and Wayne for finding me worthy to join you in service to the Craft.

I experienced the Degrees and began my Masonic education. What a wealth of knowledge poured from able Masters and Instructors in my Lodge! I was inspired by witnessing their commitment, attention to detail, respect, and concern. My eyes saw the multitude of dimensions through which Masonry could be experienced, enjoyed, and cherished. I noted with awe the contributions of my past Brothers to the service of God and country. Thank you Brothers Bill, Mike, Jim, Tom--and so many others--for teaching me what others have taught you. And, thanks to all my Brothers, past and present, who kept the light of Freemasonry burning brightly until I could see and feel its warmth. Again it was Bro. Stan, along with Bro. Ben, who introduced me to the Scottish Rite and the beauty of its expansive and worthwhile instruction.

I was honored to serve as Master of my Lodge, Fort Thomas, No. 808 of Fort Thomas, Kentucky. I looked out from my station and saw men I hold dear. I saw faces I had never seen before, and yet I knew each Masonís handshake would be warm, his word good, and his intentions noble.

Through a mutually known third person, I met a Brother Mason, also a 32, who lives in Lake Elsinore, California. We have corresponded and spoken by telephone, but we have never met in person. That is not essential, although we hope to meet someday, for we are friends and Brothers as close as if we shared the same life.

My California Brother is seriously ill now, and I pray that he will heal and prosper for years to come. Despite the many things he must attend to at home, I was surprised to receive from him a recent gift from the West Coast. There, reaching out to me, was a beautifully crafted pendant--a miniature hand in silver--and in its palm the Square and Compasses. It is now suspended from my neck, and I shall cherish the gift forever.

How many meanings I could assess to this symbol! It is the hand of God directing us to the tenets of Masonry. It is the hand of friendship reaching across the world. It is a meditation on the human hand, such a marvelous working tool. It is all these things and more!

Thank you Brother Clyde for your gift of fraternal love in the shape of a tiny hand. Wherever Freemasonry may take me for the remainder of my life, that handís meanings shall accompany me on the journey, and I shall do my best to teach the lesson of my dear friend and Brother to others.