While it is yet day

In the third degree ceremony of raising, the candidate is advised to be careful to perform their allotted task while it is yet day.

In the context of this part of the Masonic story, the meaning becomes obvious – we should use our time on this planet to best effect, to make the most of our lives.

In the advice given, there is the implied assumption that we have an “allotted task,” which was the subject of last quarter’s article.

However, there is an imperative here. The candidate is reminded that night is sure to fall, that we are running out of time.

It would be useful, at this point, to invoke a quote from a Stanford University commencement speech, given by Steve Jobs in 2005, which runs as follows:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

You are already naked.

There is no reason not to follow your heart.

 

Steve Jobs, 2010 – By Matthew Yohe
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

I think these words are profound. Yes, Steve Jobs had a long battle with pancreatic cancer, he was very much reminded that he didn’t really know how long he had to perform his allotted task.

The third degree attempts to convey this very same message to the candidate.

None of us really knows how long we have in this mortal coil. We do not have forever, yet we tend to act as if we have all the time in the world.

By taking us through a dramatization of our own death, we are led to contemplate this awful subject and its related truths.

 

third degree image
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

I understand that this sounds morbid, but there is actually a beautiful message here.

By reminding us of the full stop we must all eventually face, we are also reminded of the value of each moment.

Any wasted moment is a real travesty. This realisation can profoundly influence how we live our lives.

Naturally, if we understand the true value of our time, we will become less tolerant of the people and things that waste it.

We get a better instinct over the best ways to spend this precious resource.

In the face of our inevitable destiny, do we really want to be regularly involved in the circular argument of the day that we might see on social media?

Are we truly willing to accept poor goods and services in exchange for money that we spent our time earning?

Indeed, are we sure that we want to remain in a job that refuses to pay a reasonable rate in exchange for those extra steps towards the grave engaged in “their” business interests?

 

A ritual and illustrations of freemasonry : accompanied by numerous engravings, and a key to the Phi Beta Kappa, Allyn, Avery, London : W. Reeves, 19–
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Try this exercise in your own mind: Imagine yourself long in the future, during the last few moments of your life.

You take this time to reflect back on your experiences. What life would you like to see in your mind’s eye?

You can make this image as detailed as you wish, covering as many areas as you wish. You may even find it useful to write this all down.

Next, imagine that these final moments are not in the more distant future but are going to occur in a year’s time.

How does this change your behaviour? It is clear that you probably don’t have the time to create the life you imagined in the first place.

Are you aware, even in this exercise, of an increased sense of urgency?

 

IMAGE CREDIT:  Pixabay

This does not mean that we have to sacrifice our enjoyment of life in order to serve.

We have a job to do, a task to perform. We have, as I have discussed before, unique talents that we have been blessed with.

If we heed the advice in the charge of the third degree we will understand that we must begin to exert or develop those talents now.

As we do this, we feel the joy inherent in the act of total self-expression.

 

‘Macrocosmus’ – Adaption of Robert Fludd’s 16th century woodcut of ‘Vitruvian man’ – By Zachariel Adaption of Robert Fludd’s 16th century woodcut of ‘Vitruvian man’ – Own work,
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Going back to the earlier exercise, when you looked at the picture of how you wanted your life to turn out, you were looking at a work of art that was yours alone.

It was the end result of years of crafting. You can have that picture. Your life can become whatever you want it to be, with sufficient effort and time spent shaping it.

You can make this your global vision of your life and make it your mission to spend every moment building it, stage by stage. This will take planning, frequent reflection, and regular course alterations, but you will get there in the end if you stay the course.

 

Each moment is a gift that you can make the most of.

We can all do more; many of us do not live our lives to the full.

It is our allotted task to do something with the time we have been given, to make our lives into glorious examples.

Learn from the past, create your future.

There is no time like the present.

Article by: Craig Weightman

Craig Weightman grew up in Hinckley, Leicestershire and was educated at the University of Leicester, gaining a degree in Psychology and Computer Science.

He was initiated into Freemasonry in 2003, and became master of his lodge in 2014.

Outside of his interests in Freemasonry, Craig is a lecturer in Computer Games Design and Computer Science at a college in Warwickshire. He also develops websites for businesses.

Craig is the author of 'A Journey in Stone'.

 

Books: by Craig Weightman

A Journey in Stone

By: Craig Weightman

Starting with the rough ashlar, the symbol of the individual as they enter masonry, he moves through an explanation of how the working of stone is an apt metaphor for transformation

 

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