Nicholas: I’m on the plane heading back to Florida and wanted to spend a few moments talking about my experience at Masonic Con.
When Ezekial Bates lodge called me and invited me up for the weekend to speak, I was full of joy. It meant a weekend with my favorite Masons in the whole wide world. It meant going to see my mother lodge Brothers. Brother David had left me in Florida a handful of months prior, so this was a great time to invite him to speak with me and spend some time with him.
You see, Masonic Con is like sleep-away camp in that there’s so much going on and it’s a non-stop party.
Starting at 9AM on a Saturday morning there’s over 500 Masons from all over the country. There’s people you’ve conversed with (or argued with) online. You finally get to put faces to names and there’s nothing more heartwarming than finally just shaking their hand and giving them a hug. The speakers this year were amazing, as always. If you haven’t listened to them yet, head to the Ezekiel Bates Facebook page and queue them up.
The struggle is deciding when to listen to the amazing speakers, or when to head downstairs where the vendors hang out with everyone else. Speakers go back to back from 9AM to 5PM.
Our talk, titled “A Better Masonic Education”, was the last one to go on. David and I worked hard preparing for the speech, and I knew it was going to be a hit.
David has a way of saying things in such a way that it’s like watching someone play the piano. It’s beautiful and memorizing and lifts your heart. There were many questions at the end and you could see the sore necks from people nodding their head so much lol. I consider myself a student from the David Riley school of Masonry. And I hope to one day be half as good as he is at giving our Craft the strength he does.
After the last talk (which was ours), the bow-ties become undone and the shirts get untucked. That’s when a table lodge style roasting starts with Bryan and Ryan Flynn as the hosts. Drinks are poured, toasts are given, and countless stories relating to our love of Masonic Con and our fraternity are given. A mixture of emotions fill the room. We’re laughing and we’re crying.
One story was about the most manly man I had ever seen telling us how the first time he had heard “I love you” was from a Brother. One look at this guy and you could tell he’s probably had a physical life. He’s probably been through some stuff. When he was a boy, and later a guy, he had not heard those words. He tells the story that a Brother Mason told him out of the blue, looking him square in the eye, “I love you, Brother”. No doubt in my mind that it made him into the fantastic man he is today.
He said it shattered his soul. He broke down.
After he told that story, it became clear that the theme for the night would be “Brotherly love”. Brothers were going around telling each other how much they loved them. Hugs, high fives, and handshakes.
At some point, we take a deep breath and know our night will end soon. We’ll have to go back home and count the days until we can see them again. In the meantime, we promised to keep fighting the good fight. -Nicholas