My Orlando Scottish Rite Brothers,

It is vital that we develop the capacity to listen to the thoughts and concerns of others as we make important decisions about Orlando Scottish Rite. We need to look to the ideas and interests of our members to make sure our choices will improve the future development of our Scottish Rite Center. On a personal level, listening is one of the greatest gifts a person can give to someone else. A person feels either affirmed or ignored based on the feeling that someone else has listened to them as they expressed themselves and their thoughts.

So often, our ability to listen is limited because we are pre-occupied with formulating our response to what the person is saying. It is more critical for us to win the argument or get our point across than to understand the thoughts or feelings of the person speaking.

We should listen with the intent to understand. We should not hinder our listening by being pre-occupied with formulating our response but should be guided with the goal of understanding what the person is trying to say. Our goal needs to be honoring the person by genuinely listening with the intention of understanding. If we don’t fully understand then we can ask questions that will help us comprehend more fully the ideas they are trying to communicate. We may not agree with what the person is saying, but we need to understand them to offer our thoughts. How often do people look foolish as they provide a counter-argument that doesn’t relate to what the person is saying because they didn’t listen fully?

In the Book of James, we read, “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” In the book, “Way of Love” by Norman Wirzba, the author talks about having a brotherly love relationship with each other and encourages us to recognize their unique thoughts and ideas. We can do this most effectively as we listen to each other, taking the time to focus on what they are saying so we can fully understand the ideas they are trying to make. All of our relationships would be deepened and improved if we did. The art of listening applies to us as Orlando Scottish Rite Masons during the time we transition to our facilities at Winter Park Lodge.

In closing – may the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons, may brotherly love prevail, and ever moral and social virtue cement us. AMEN!

Ill:. George R. Van Pelt, Sr., 33°
Master of Kadosh