GRAND LODGE CONVENTION
RENO, NEVADA JULY 7-11, 2002
RAY A. ENGELLAND, PDDGER,
PAST ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT TO THE GER,
WILLMAR, MINNESOTA LODGE NO. 952:
Ladies, Guests, my Brothers and Sisters of Elkdom, my Friends, this Service is an extension of the established customs of our Fraternity, in keeping with one of our most solemn Pledges:
That living or dead, an Elk is never forgotten, never forsaken.
We are a very social group. However, when the Hour of Eleven is upon us, we pause from our social functions to pay reverent respect to our Absent Members. As Elks, we do not take this token of recollection lightly. We, likewise, congregate on the first Sunday of December within our Lodge rooms to recall with tender reverence the lives of our deceased Comrades who have stood the tests of time, and to eulogize those who have left us during the past year.
The Elks are not a religious Fraternity. However, each time we gather we begin our Session by asking God’s Blessing on the work we are about to perform, and we close by asking safekeeping and Benediction. This part of our deliberations is a constant reminder tat we are, after all, a product of our Creator.
This day, as we remember, we are reminded that in life there are no survivors, and that each of us must face the reality that our days are also numbered. So this is one of those times in our Fraternal life that “The Great Heart of Elkdom Truly Swells and Throbs.” For this is when we bow our heads in tender reverence and silent tribute to those who have left our midst in all the past years, and especially we are reminded of those who have answered the call during the last twelve months.
It is easy for us to remember with great feelings toward each of them, as they were all our friends and acquaintances. These friends live more than ever within our recollection. Only their lives with us are gone. It is true that we miss a familiar voice and the grasp of a friendly hand. These voices and the assistance of those hands are gone, but the echoes of those voices and the efforts of those hands will be with us forever. Let us be reminded that they carried with them some great tools of life, not because they are the Principles and the Symbols of our Fraternity, but because they are the Principles and Symbols of our culture and a part of our heritage.
The Holy Bible is an Emblem of true Faith and Justice. The Flag of our Country is a Symbol of Patriotism. The Star of Fidelity is a Symbol of Dedication and Obligation to lofty Principles. And always working under the “Antlers of Protection” afforded by their Fellow Elks. Not only did they live by these tools of life, they also worked on behalf of them. In death, they have discovered all of the Truths of the Principles of what they stood for in life.
The Charity spurs us all to help those lese fortunate than ourselves.
The Justice of our Duty to our fellowman.
The Brotherly Love that makes ever Member their Brother’s keeper.
The Fidelity which gives us faith not in ourselves but a deeper, more reverent faith which truly passes all human understanding.
It is easy four us to talk about our friends and perhaps even easier to talk about our Principles. However, unless we use, practice and learn from the lessons learned by our departed Family, we will have wasted our time here today. Let us believe that they are watching over us. Let us believe that they approve of our actions. Let us perform so that they would approve. Let us leave here with the resolve that we will be strengthened by their memory. Let us at every turn in the pathway of life recall all of the pleasantness which has accompanied their lives.
Let us rededicate ourselves to live by the Principles they lived by, so amply expressed by the poet John Hall in his writing entitled “At Days End” You may have heard it before but it conveys a philosophy of life that we all can aspire to live by. It is not gender correct for the 2002, but you can make the appropriate changes. It goes like this:
“Is anybody happier because you passed their way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to them today?
The day is almost over, and its toiling time is through.
Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word to you?
Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that is slipping fast,
That you helped a single Brother of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said?
Does the man whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?
Are those who sought your friendship glad you came or went?
Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes to slumber, do you think that our God will say,
‘You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today.’”
Yes, my friends, at any time we memorialize there is a certain amount of sadness. This we cannot and should not deny. I would encourage you to wear that sorrow as a Badge of Respect. But as we honor those who left us with a lighted candle, a fragrant flower, a silent tear, or a simple pleasant memory, let us be reassured that each of their days were blessed because they answered the call to serve their fellowman.
Let us rededicate ourselves, in at least a small way, to live our lives so that we can earn one more tomorrow by the work we do today. The sun of the lives of some of our Members has sunk heedlessly in the west and they have rested from their labors, but their memories live on. And we can assure them that, as Elks, that they may rest in peace for they have not been forgotten or forsaken.
©RAY A. ENGELLAND 2002