Father Initiates His Son into Freemasonry
Worshipful Brother Ian Rowan is currently the Master of Rochester Castle Lodge No 9260 and he recently initiated his oldest son Jake into Freemasonry. As you may imagine this was an emotionally charged evening when a proud father enjoyed the rare opportunity of bringing his son into his lodge.
The son of a Freemason is known as a “Lewis” and the remainder of this article gives two tales of this particular Lewis – one from Ian, the father, and the other from Jake, the Lewis - in their own words.
Dad’s View (Ian Rowan)
“Naturally I was very keen on having my eldest son Jake join our lodge as I know how much enjoyment and enrichment it has given my life and I thought he would also enjoy and grow through his involvement. As I was in the chair of Rochester Castle Lodge No 9260 this year it seemed like an irresistible idea to take forward.
I wanted to be sure that it wasn’t just for my own selfish reasons though and had to be confident that freemasonry would suit Jake and Jake would suit freemasonry rather than just paying it lip service to suit Dad. It was a good exercise to undertake to think about what I had been through since my initiation in 2008, and remember what it was like coming in and what my expectations were. I would recommend that moment of contemplation to anyone as it reinforced for me what I thought I knew and what I now know about the Craft and what it has done for me. It is always a personal journey and the benefits not instantly tangible. It’s not a simple monetary transaction that we give time or money and get something in return to take away. If anything it is more like family. There are generations of freemasons who have gone before us and hopefully there will be generations as yet unborn who will follow us and bringing in a new apprentice is a natural continuation of that ‘family’ line.
Having tried to explain the benefits I felt I got and also discussing that I wouldn’t be upset if he felt it wasn’t for him or he wasn’t ready for it at the moment, I left him to have a think about the future and let me know in time for my year in the chair.
Having made the commitment and undergone the necessary administrative duties and checks the evening of his Ballot seemed to come around all too quickly. In what was luckily no portent of the future when we came to undertake the actual ballot someone had misplaced the ballot box and we had to postpone the decision for that evening and undertake it at a later date. It was disappointing to not be able to give Jake the confirmation that night but was a good lesson in not counting your chickens!
On the night there were a few nerves as would be expected, the boy I had known all his life turned up looking decidedly outside his comfort zone. No different from the majority of candidates but I certainly noticed it more! How vulnerable they seem and must feel themselves. It certainly took me back to the night of my initiation and the confusion and doubts that were whirling around at the time. My son acquitted himself perfectly and said the right things at the right time and, crucially for an initiate, said nothing when he was supposed to keep quiet.
Everyone put in a sterling performance and suddenly we were closing the lodge and off to the Festive Board. Toasts were given and received and we set off home all very lovely and convivial and everyone was full of kindness and good spirits towards us both.
I dropped Jake back to his house and he said he had enjoyed one of the strangest evenings ever and once he had processed the information he would ring me the next day. I understood what he meant, it was similar to a wedding day, there was so much process and “things to do” that the event rather passed by in a flash and by the time I stopped for breath to review what was going on and enjoy it, we were all going home.
When I got home myself I was far too awake for bed and poured myself a celebratory malt and reviewed my memories of the evening. It was about an hour since I had left Jake when I heard the phone bleep a message indicator so I checked up and it was a message from Jake who was obviously undergoing a similar process (probably without the malt). It was the most moving and thoughtful message he has ever sent me and I have no shame in admitting the malt got a bit watered down!
I feel more confident than ever that we came to the right decision and that Jake has a rich and fulfilling journey in freemasonry, on which he has taken the first step. I am sure he will enjoy some parts more than others, as we all do, and face some challenges and probably the odd doubt but they are all learning points and when I have looked back at my time I recognise that I have become richer for them.
From the outside it may well have seemed like a “standard” initiation we have probably all seen and maybe even been involved in a few but I would encourage you all to recognise like a marriage or a birth there is nothing standard or ordinary to those involved and personally I don’t shy away from putting my and Jakes initiation in the same bracket as both those events.”
Lewis’s View (Jake Rowan)
“I had been vaguely aware that occasionally Dad would get dressed up and disappear for an evening occasionally and often on holiday could be heard mumbling incantations to himself.
I hadn’t given it any undue consideration until about two years ago when I wondered what exactly he was up to! Little did I know the slippery slope to weirdness I had just stepped on to!
Being strangely evasive under questioning Dad only managed to excite my curiosity, so I turned to my pal Google to see what he had to say about it all. Unsure if Dad was now a member of an all-powerful illuminati poised to take over the world, or a devil worshiping firm of goat slaughterers, I decided to find out which it was and questioned him further as both did seem somewhat out of character although there was a noticeable lack of goats locally.
I knew about the all charity work as Dad often mentioned this and we sometimes went to events with him where there was always a raffle held or a bucket to be rattled. We attended a few lunches and Christmas Carol services and the world domination was either wrong or being seriously underplayed judging by some of the venues we attended. As I asked more questions Dad seemed to become more interested and the “imagine boy scouts but with beer “ type answer gave way to some interesting and serious discussions about how people develop and what type of man we became and where those role models could be found in the world today and what peoples choices were.
I understood the idea that telling me all about it would spoil the surprise but felt I needed a bit more to be going on than blind faith. I recognise that Dad and I do share a lot of things in common and have similar tastes in some things but equally I am also sure that it doesn’t extend to everything!
I had veered between recognising it would be okay as an experience, and Dad seemed keen on the idea so why not; to realising I would become part of an exclusive and long-established group of men who shared some common and sensible values and had managed to continue through wars, religious difficulties, territorial disputes and even Nazi persecution to carry on doing what they do seemingly having fun and helping people out. As I looked into the history more there was obviously something to this that maintained its momentum over the centuries and however laudable fundraising is, it wasn’t just that. So although it was a bit of a leap of faith and I couldn’t understand exactly what it was that kept Dad and his mates happy they did all seem to enjoy it and all said I would too. What sealed it was when Dad took me to lunch at Mark Masons Hall with some freemasons he had met and I got chatting to them over lunch and afterwards. They were all from very different backgrounds, ages and had different jobs and it seemed odd that they might have anything in common. Their opinions on most subjects varied as much as any cross-section of men in a bar but yet they all said how they enjoyed this freemasonry thing and how they would love their sons to come into it as well and how lucky Dad was to have me. (I have told him before but he didn’t always seem to believe me!)
The night itself was probably the weirdest Wednesday evening I have ever spent. If I hadn’t realised how seriously people were taking it I would have thought it was a wind up. It was strange, a strange place, a strange language people dressed in a strange way all in all pretty weird and yet they were the same friendly people I had met over the years suddenly behaving and speaking in an unfamiliar way. The ceremony seemed to take a long time but was difficult to keep up with at the same time and then it was suddenly over. I gather it makes more sense when you watch someone else doing it at least that’s what the other newbies told me afterwards. What struck me most was the warmth and respect these men had for each other and now me. I can see there is quite a gap between me at 21 and some of my new “Brothers” but I do feel I have entered into a warm and welcoming group and I am sure I can learn and experience things that most of my friends would otherwise miss out from. I hope I can also add something and take Rochester Castle Lodge forward over the next few decades!”