Deliberating On The First Degree
By Brother Carel Cornelissen
19 April 2012
Worshipful Master, Right Worshipful, Worshipful Brethren & Brethren All, When asked to say a few words at the festive board, following my initiation as EA, I noted that, that day marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life - the coming to fruition of a ‘back-in-the-head’ dream.
However, having gone through the initiation and studying the ritual of the First Degree, I came to realise that I was misguided in my thinking. I knew no better at the time. In fact, it was only once I have observed the Light that I realised it was never a dream - it had all along been a yearning that came from my heart, since in my heart I had already been a Freemason. How appropriate is it then not that the message in the First Degree is ‘Self Knowledge’.
One can only really know yourself, and be true to yourself, when you are aware of your own strengths and shortcomings. It is especially important so as to not compromise the relationships you have with others - your relationship with your God, your family, your fellow brethren and society in general.
It is therefore probably not coincidental that the Holy Word of the First Degree denotes “strength”, since, it is submitted, it requires strength of character to know yourself and accept who you are. And, although you may unknowingly already possess “wisdom” and “beauty”, it is submitted, it takes self knowledge to unlock these attributes. As I recalled the journeys of my past, I came to the conclusion that, had I joined the Order 15 years ago, I may have possessed youthful beauty, but I would have certainly lacked wisdom … and it may be questionable whether, at the time, I would have had the strength of character to acknowledge my shortcomings.
Now that I have seen the Light previously unobserved, I look forward to my passing and learning more of the Craft. And, as I continue chipping away at this Temple of uprightness, building a better me and striving for perfection, I shall always, first and foremost, remain an Apprentice, no matter where the next journey may lead.