September 2012

Brethren –

August is behind is and, although I had a very busy month in which I spent total of 4 nights in VA, it is quite shocking when I realize that 8 months have gone by in this Masonic year. Thus I spend most of this month on travel, and missing both my regular and masonic families. In that context I spent lots of time contemplating the function of a cable tow in a Mason’s life. It is challenging to undertake the journey of being a contemporary businessperson as well as an active Mason. However, the realities of life are such that most of us, younger Masons are subjected to this type of hectic lifestyle and is a great learning point as it points out how short our cable tow can be in life. That inspired me to research into cable tow and symbolic meaning it has on us, Masons. Again, I found some great answers in brother Joseph Fort Newton’s writings below:

If a Lodge is a symbol of the world, and initiation is our birth into the world of Masonry, the cable-tow is not unlike the cord which unites a child to its mother at birth; and so it is usually interpreted. Just as the physical cord, when cut, is replaced by a tie of love and obligation between mother and child, so, in one of the most impressive moments of initiation, the cable-tow is removed, because the brother, by his oath at the Altar is bound by a tie stronger than any physical cable. What before was an outward physical restraint has become an inward moral constraint. That is to say, force is replaced by love—outer authority by inner obligation—and that is the secret of security and the only basis of brotherhood. The cable-tow is the sign of the pledge of the life of a man. As in his oath he agrees to forfeit his life if his vow is violated, so, positively, he pledges his life to the service of the Craft. He agrees to go to the aid of a Brother, using all the power in his behalf, “if within the length of his cable-tow,” which means, if within the reach of his power. How strange that any one should fail to see symbolical meaning in the cable-tow! It is, indeed, the great symbol of the mystic tie which Masonry spins and weaves between men, making them Brothers and helpers one of another.

But, let us remember that a Cable-tow has two ends. If it binds a Mason to the Fraternity, by the same fact it binds the Fraternity to each man in it. The one obligation needs to be emphasized as much as the other. Happily, in our day we are beginning to see the other side of the obligation that the Fraternity is under vows to its members to guide, instruct, and train them for the effective service of the Craft and of humanity. Control, obedience, direction or guidance these are the three meanings of the cable-tow, as it is interpreted by the best insight of the Craft. The cable-tow, then, is the outward and visible symbol of a vow in which a man has pledged his life, or has pledged himself to save another life at the risk of his own. Its length and strength are measured by the ability of the man to fulfill his obligation and his sense of the moral sanctity of his obligation—a test, that is, both of his capacity and of his character. Just so, when the cable-tow of each Mason is joined with that of every other Mason, and all are united in one Cable of Kindness, it makes a bond of brotherhood the might of which no mortal can measure. It helps to hold. the world together. It holds when other ties break, as it did in the Civil War in America. It is one of the holiest assets of humanity—a far-stretching Tie, mystical and unseen, yet more unbreakable than bands of steel, in which the obligation and loyalty and love of each of us is a strand.

There is an unseen cord that binds The whole wide world together; Through every human life it winds, This one mysterious tether.
There are no separate lives; the chain
Too subtle for our seeing,
Unites us all upon the plane of universal being.

Such is the Divine cable-tow by which the world is held in its moral orbit. To discover that cord running through our own lives—your life and mine—uniting us with all the seekers after truth, all lovers of right, all servants of God and man, is the mission and blessing of Masonry. What is the length of our cable-tow? Who knows how far it reaches?

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Adi Karisik, WM

Link to PDF version of this month’s Trestle Board:

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