The Lost Ring
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley
My wife once took a survey that asked what her husband’s hobby is or would be. She answered, “collecting Masonic bling.” She’s probably right. I have a box full of pins, tie tacks, cuff links, and name badges that is beginning to get too small. But I’m not given to wearing them all at the same time. I generally stick to a ring, the current Grand Master’s pin, and cuff links when I’m wearing a suit, and a ring at all times. It seems to be the one common thing Masons have when it comes to jewellery: I don’t often meet a Mason who isn’t wearing a Masonic ring. I haven’t been without one since I was raised. I even have a beat up ring I call my “fishing ring,” which I have taken on vacation for the past several summers, except this year. Foolishly, I decided that I’d been overly cautious, and didn’t bother changing. So of course, I lost the ring I’d been wearing for years. I don’t know what happened; it apparently just slipped off my hand somewhere. Fortunately, it had no sentimental value, so I wasn’t heartbroken so much as I was annoyed. I also discovered that I just didn’t feel right without a Masonic ring. So when we got back home I went straight to the computer and started hunting on eBay. I knew what I wanted: gold, with a solid back. I figured there’d be a few out there, and there were. After a few days of only mildly obsessive searching, I found an excellent ring at a good price, paid for it, and received it in a very short time. It fit better than the one it replaced, and is in even better condition. I was happy, of course, but what I found surprising was my relief when I put it on. I knew I’d missed my ring, but what I hadn’t figured on, and didn’t really realize until the new one came, was how much a part of me it had become. It wasn’t the particular ring I’d missed: it was the constant external reminder that I am a Mason.
Being anonymous can lead to the temptation to try to cut corners, to get away with things; it can lead, in other words, to acting un-Masonically. When I wear my Masonic ring (or drive my car with its Masonic license plates, or wear a lodge polo shirt), I am putting myself out there as a representation of our fraternity. As Most Worshipful Richard L. Swaney, Past Grand Master of Masons in Illinois, put it, “a Masonic license plate makes you a more polite driver.” So my Masonic ring matters. Yes, it’s a nice piece of jewellery, but it’s more than that: it’s a sign to others that I’m trustworthy, a good man. So I’ll keep wearing it as a pledge to myself that I’ll remember what my obligation means and act accordingly.