PORTRAIT OF A MASON
by Oger L. Terry
Past Master of Union Lodge #2 in Madison, IN, and Past Grand Steward and
April 02, 2014
If I were to paint a portrait of a Mason, I would start with a canvas woven
of threads from around the world to show the universality of Masonry. The warp
and woof would be tight, because Masons are united tightly by the ties of
brotherhood. The material would be of the highest quality to ensure survival
into eternity, for as Masonic principles have endured since time immemorial,
they will persist into time inconceivable.
The canvas would be pure white, unspotted by the world, because it represents
the lambskin or white leather apron, an emblem of innocence and the badge of a
Mason, its pure and spotless surface being symbolic of purity of life and
conduct. As white is the reflection of every color in the rainbow, so the white
canvas should reflect the individuality of each Mason within the brotherhood of
Although many colors will be added, its white surface must be a reminder that
Masonry regards no man for his worldly wealth or honors and that the internal –
not the external – qualifications of a man should render him worthy to be made a
If I were to paint a portrait of a Mason, I would start with the color gold,
representing deity, because every Mason is taught that no man should enter upon
any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessings of
deity. I would use many shades of reds and blacks and whites and yellows and
browns, representing all the races of the world, because Masons are taught that
the whole human species is one family – the high and low, the rich and poor,
created by one Almighty Parent – and inhabitants of the same planet.
But I would especially use lots of blue, because blue is symbolic of beliefs,
and beliefs are what distinguish a Mason. My Masonic figure would be painted
with a belief in the Ancient Landmarks: monotheism; immortality; the Book of the
Sacred Law; plus additional beliefs and obligations which contain nothing which
conflicts with his duties to God, his country, his neighbors, or himself.
Being mindful of our country’s motto – e pluribus unum, one from many – I
would strive to blend my colors so as not to lose the essential character of
each one, because Masonry is a unitas multiplex – a unity out of diversity.
Because Masonry values the integrity of each individual, my Masonic portrait
would look like no other Mason. Yet it would resemble all men who chart their
travels by the Sacred Volume in pursuit of further light.
I would paint him as a temple builder, because Master Masons endeavor to fit
themselves as a dwelling place for the Supreme Architect according to the grand
design of the Celestial Trestleboard Trestleboard above. He would be facing East
for, as the sun rises in the East to light the day, so rise the Inspiration and
Light in the East to guide all his endeavors.
If I were to paint a portrait of a Mason, I would enclose it in a frame
fashioned with all the working tools of Masonry indiscriminately, because Masons
are admonished to apply their working tools of life for the noble and glorious
purpose of framing their actions with the frame of rectitude. The construction
would be guided by the square and compass, for should all Masons square their
actions and circumscribe their passions.
The four sides of the frame would be composed of the Cardinal Virtues of a
Mason, for should all Masons be bounded by Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and
And because the individual Mason gains strength from his lodge, the frame
will be painted as an Indented Tessel, representing the beautiful tesselated
border or skirting which surrounded the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple,
emblematical of those blessings and comforts which surround us and which we hope
to obtain by a firm reliance on Divine Providence.
If I were to paint a portrait of a Mason, I would support it on an easel of
acacia, that tree which serves to remind us of that imperishable part of man
which survives the grave, and bears the nearest affinity to the supreme
intelligence which pervades all nature, and which can never, never, never die.
The three legs of the easel would represent the pillars of Masonry, because
there must be Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn all
great and important undertakings. The legs would be painted with the tenets of a
Mason’s profession. Thus should all Masons support brother Master Masons, their
widows and orphans with Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
If I were to paint a portrait of a Mason, I would work with freedom,
fervency, and zeal, because that is how all men should serve their Master. I
would ask only for the emblematical wages of plenty, health, and peace, because
the making of a Mason is a spiritual, not a worldly undertaking.
When my portrait of a Mason was completed, I would display it openly in
public, rather than only in a lodge room, so the whole community could
appreciate its worth. And I would dedicate it to the glory of the Grand Artist
of the Universe, with confidence that He would say that, thus painted, there
stands a just and upright Mason, worthy to adorn that spiritual building, that
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
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