I had two options to spend my Wednesday evening. Watch the Champions League quarterfinals match between Barcelona and PSG (oooh Ibra) or go to a Free Masons open house with Claudia. I love Claudia. So I opted for the latter. (I love her THAT much!)
When she first posed the idea of attending the open house, I thought: we’re going to a gathering of old men wearing odd costumes. Not really much different from going to the pub to watch footie is it? Little did I know that there are actually mixed free masons lodges, Le Droit Humain. Yes, there were women there. Yes, they were mostly older. But no, there were no hats or robes. That was a bit of a bummer.
We drove to the meeting place for Loge 1001 in Amstelveen (check that box off my to do list although I would like to eat at one of the much heralded Japanese restaurants there one day). I didn’t really know what to expect but one thing that I had not prepared for was that this open house / information session was entirely IN DUTCH, complete with PowerPoint presentation. I know about six words/phrases in Dutch: hoi, doei, dank je wel, alsjeblieft, ik hou van jou and swaffelen. The latter two were extremely unlikely to be said or heard that night.
I was completely expecting to spend the night trying not to doze off but to my surprise it was actually…pleasant. And I learned a lot. Here are some highlights:
1. I’m pretty proud of myself because I actually understood part of the presentation. (Pats self on back.) It was really helpful to see the words on the powerpoint and then hear it being said. At the end of the deck Claudia jokingly asked me a question based on the presentation and guess what, I knew the answer! Bam!
2. I got to check out their temple. It was simple. Smelled lovely. There were symbols around the room, from zodiac signs to the eye/pyramid thingie that you find on the dollar bill. At the the top of the entrance was “Ken Uzelve” – know thyself. No windows which would normally make it feel like you were in a dingy basement but there was actually a vibrant energy in the room.
3. I have a better idea of the ideas behind free masons now. One woman explained to me – in English – that life is full of symbols and the masons help you to better understand what those symbols mean to you. She related it to this sign. Whether when you see it driving, walking or on the tram, you know how to interpret it when you see it. It’s a visual reference for certain behaviors or clues as to how you are to react. Your “brothers and sisters” help guide you to better understand what certain symbols in your life mean.
For example, one sister carries around a meter stick as a visual reminder of how silly it is to try to do so much in a 24 hour day, like trying to squeeze your life in between the 24 hash marks on the meter stick.
4. It felt like camp and I love any opportunity to talk about CRS. (CRS is an international leadership camp and is how Claudia and I met when we were just babes. Yeah, it’s a dork camp. Don’t judge.) So of course that made me feel all warm and gushy and wonderful.
So am I going to join? No. Language barrier aside, it’s just not for me – yet. The symbols do intrigue me and I was very impressed at how egalitarian the structure was – and everyone was so damn nice! It really felt like camp in so many ways.
Probably the most impressive part about the whole evening was the emphasis on choice. You have to decide what you want from this experience. You have to decide that this is right of you. They are not going to actively recruit you. It’s purely on your own volition.
After you make that decision, then the lodge has to decide if you’re right for them. The process – akin to applying for a competitive university with interviews and lengthy application – can take from 6 months up to a year, maybe even longer. 6 MONTHS! OR LONGER. The process is lengthy to allow you to determine if this is the right choice for you. Seems like everyone there were very pleased with their decision as some were members for near two decades – some longer.
The meeting ended just in time for me to pop in the pub across the street to catch the last 4 minutes of the match, so I was able to get my footie fix in.