Campaign for the Cambridge Masonic Temple

Supporting a perpetual home for Freemasonry in Cambridge

Breathing for Generations

Reflections on the "lungs" of the Cambridge Masonic Temple and the Campaign for their renovation

by Wor. David L. Riley


“How do you tell if something's alive? You check for breathing.”

― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

I do not think that you would find much variation in the answer if you asked every Mason of the Cambridge Masonic Temple what part of that temple he finds to be the most sacred: it is the altar in the lodge room, where we take upon ourselves those obligations which make us Masons. It is there, kneeling before the Grand Architect of Universe, that we bind ourselves with promises to one another and begin to learn to be Brothers. You may however find some variation when asking what room takes second place. (Even I am enough of a traditional Mason that my impulse is to name the dining room. Masons are, after all, known for their love of a good meal in good company.)

The third floor apartments of our Temple should, however, be given special consideration. If it is the lodge room’s altar that is the heart of our Temple, then these rooms are its lungs, which breathe meaning into the words spoken at the altar.

It is in these rooms during a game of pool, a shared beverage, or a conversation that lasts late into in the night that our obligations begin to become real. It is here that we begin to know the rhythms of one another’s voices, to hear the stories of one another’s lives, and to become brothers in fact as well as by right.

These rooms are surely worth our investment to ensure they may continue to serve these noble purposes and assist, in their modest way, in helping us fulfill the reciprocal duties of friendship and brotherly love. Indeed, this campaign to raise just $35,000 seems modest when set against the knowledge that we will be benefitting from the improvement to these rooms for generations.

The Cambridge Masonic Temple was built by men confident in the knowledge that they were transmitting Freemasonry through brick and woodwork.

Each generation has since that time managed to convey the Temple to the next generation.  Some have stepped up and done their part to ensure that the building arrived into the hands of the next in good form, while others have been less successful in their stewardship. But the building has survived to find herself in our hands today. In a very real sense, we hold the building in trust for the next generation of Freemasons in Cambridge who will have every reason to consider that the condition of the building represents a fair evaluation of our commitment to the future of the Craft in the Cambridge community.

We should end the idea that we occupy this building through some sort of inherited right and begin to acknowledge that we move through these rooms because previous generations have been more generous and kind to us than we have, so far, been to those of the future. This campaign isn’t just about improving our social rooms, it is a payment toward that debt we owe to the men of 1910 who built a Temple and the men of 2110 who, we pray, will kneel at an altar in Endicott Hall and, after lodge, listen to a brother’s story in the fraternal warmth of the third floor apartments.

I urge you to participate in our Campaign. Moreover, I urge you to dig a little deeper than you otherwise might and make this campaign overwhelmingly successful. More than a new social space, we are reviving a culture of generosity as Cambridge Freemasons who’s common Masonic home is this Temple. 

I have pledged to contribute as generously as I can. I urge you to do the same. Ask what you can give that, consistent with the values of our Institution, does no harm to yourself or your family. Every gift, of whatever amount, is important. Do not concern yourself with what others may give or have given. It is the generosity of the gift that matters most, not the particular amount.

Give with an open heart and let us breathe life into our Temple for another generation.