Roger M. Firestone, 32°, K.C.C.H.

Light and truth serve as the philosophical four-leafed clovers of Masonry.

It’s about a ¾ mile walk from the bus stop I use to the Alexandria, Virginia, Scottish Rite Temple. The bus gets there half an hour before the meeting starts, so I don’t have to rush. Sometimes I stop for a cup of espresso. Sometimes I just look at the passing scene as I stroll down the street. And sometimes, something catches my eye.

This time, what caught my eye was a four-leafed clover. I have a knack for spotting them, I guess. In the past couple years, I’ve found more than a dozen. I don’t always pick them. Often, it’s just satisfying enough to know my eyes are still sharp. But this time, I bent over and plucked it. Putting the tiny plant into my shirt pocket, I walked on to the Stated Communication.

A couple of Brothers who drove to the meeting had seen me bending over, and they asked what I’d found. I showed them, and one said that he’d never in his life found a four-leafed clover. "But they’re everywhere," I said, and recounted my having found many in recent months. He shook his head, and I moved on to greet other members.

My last stop before picking a seat was the SE corner of the room, where the dedicated Illustrious Brother who heads the Sick and Distressed Committee always sits, so he can borrow the microphone of the Secretary. I greeted him and decided to leave the clover on the Secretary’s desk. Who is in more need of luck than the Brother who has that job? Well, maybe the Brothers whose names the chair of the Sick and Distressed Committee would read, but I didn’t have that many clovers. Good wishes and prayers would have to do. In the course of the meeting, the Secretary mentioned the clover without knowing who’d left it. Meanwhile, the remark of the Brother who’d never found one in his life continued to echo through my mind. Abruptly, I realized what the clover symbolized. But we’d had such an excellent and distinguished (not to mention Illustrious) speaker, and it would have been impolite to add any remarks that evening, even though the tender of the floor urges Brethren if they have "anything to offer."

There would be another time, as in this essay, to point out that the four-leafed clover is unquestionably a symbol in nature of the Fourth Degree. From my experiences at finding them, I knew they were everywhere, along the sides of roads and next to buildings, in our backyards and in parks. Yet most persons, like the Brother who had never found one, overlook them amidst the mass of ordinary three-leafed clovers. A four-leafed clover was surely within that Brother’s reach nearly every day—if he had bothered to look closely enough.

Why does the clover symbolize the Fourth Degree? Four-leafed clovers are everywhere within our grasp, but few look and see what is before them. The motto of the Fourth Degree is "Light and Truth are within the reach of every man that lives, would he but open his eyes and see." Light and truth are the philosophical four-leafed clovers of Freemasonry. Anyone can find the truth if he chooses to look for it, for it is everywhere about us. But we ignore it amidst the mass of three-leafed trivia to which we pay no attention.

Open your eyes and see, my Brothers; open your eyes and see!

Roger M. Firestone
is a member of the Valley of Alexandria, Va., where he is 1st Lt. Commander of the Council of Kadosh. He also serves as Grand Master of Cryptic Masons in Washington D.C. for 1998–99.