Monday, May 14, 2007

Official Visit – Cowansville Chapter #17

On April 23rd, we had our Official Visit to Cowansville Chapter in Knowlton, QC, and once again we had a wonderful time. Before the meeting, we all enjoyed a wonderful pot-luck supper (which I was late for due to heavy traffic on my way from work).

The chapter honoured two of my Grand Officers, Sister Brenda Stone, Associate Grand Matron and Brother Eric Sanborn, Grand Warder. They also paid tribute to Sister Beverley Sanborn, Grand Conductress, who is affiliated with this Chapter.

I had the pleasure of presenting a Grand Representatives Commission to Sister Erika Sanborn to the state of Puerto Rico. As her mother, Sister Beverley Sanborn was Conductress this evening she had the pleasure of escorting her daughter to the East. It was such a pleasure seeing this, as I don’t think this happens very often. I was also pleased to present a Certificate of Appreciate and gold Thistle pin to Brother Rodney Jenne, P.G.P. for being the chapter’s Marshal.

The Worthy Matron, Sister Donna Mitchell, planned a wonderful ceremony for us. If I thought that I hadn’t laughed so hard as at the Table Chapter in November, I was sadly mistaken. The Worthy Matron concocted a race for the WGP and I to partake in. At several points throughout the chapter room we had to participate in an event and win points. At the first checkpoint, we had to spin plastic eggs and see who’s egg spun the longest (I won that one!). At another checkpoint, we had to whose little plastic dragon ran the furthest (I lost that one!). By the time the race was finished (which I won overall!), I thought I was going to crack a rib from laughing so hard. It is so great to see the chapters have fun during their meetings. When the chapters have fun during their meetings, it encourages the members to come back again. After returning to the East, I was presented with a donation from the Chapter for my Special Project. After the meeting, we enjoyed some delicious cake and ice cream, which was in honour of their Grand Officers.

Since Spring had finally sprung, as my Chapter Talk, I chose to speak on the subject of gardens.

Chapter Talk – In The Garden

Worthy Matron, Worthy Patron, WGP, GGCCM’s, all Distinguished Guests, Sisters & Brothers. Thank you Worthy Matron for the warm welcome this evening. As always, it is a pleasure to be here tonight.

Tonight I wish to talk to you for a little while about gardens. In the spring of the year we become especially garden-minded. We peruse the seed catalogues, we go out into our yards to see if the bulbs are coming along as they should and if the perennials have withstood the rigorous winter; and how about the precious fern we had such a difficult time getting started! Those first crocuses coming up through the snow are more welcome than a dozen red roses from the greenhouses. If we can’t have a garden of our own, we still find ourselves stopping before the florist’s windows to admire the daffodils and the tulips – and finally when the grocery store puts boxes of plants out on the sidewalk each morning to sell, we know for certain that summer is just around the corner. Spring has engulfed us. We see new life, new joy. All the wonders of nature are spread out before us. God’s handiwork – God’s gift to us. Not to us alone, but to all mankind without regard to colour, race, or creed.

That’s one kind of a garden. Now I wish to mention another one equally beautiful and more wonderful still. This is not a perennial garden, nor does it bloom in the spring only – it is eternal because the flowers which grow there are everlasting. The garden of which I speak is the one we are sitting in tonight. It is the Garden of our Star. In the very center stands the sundial – our Holy Bible, the rays of which warm the heart and bring the flowers into full bloom. These lovely flowers are not daffodils nor primroses, glorious as these may be, but they are called Kindness, Constancy, Steadfastness, Truth, and Charity, and others too numerous to mention. Like the roses and the Phlox, they need tender care and nourishment if they are to grow in beauty and stature. Like the hyacinth and the bluebells they fade without it. So why do I call them everlasting? Because, ever since the world began, they have grown upon the earth. Someone somewhere has kept these seeds alive, had broadcast them and cared for them so that they might live and we might behold their beauty today. Each time we invite a Sister or a Brother into our Order we plant a seed from these flowers in a heart. We hope it falls on good soil and blooms in a life so that this life may be one with us in keeping our garden flourishing.

We have so many symbols in our ritualistic work and among the loveliest of these is the meaning of our flowers. First we have the violet, which is a modest flower and appropriate to the daughter. The blue violet is more than a flower to us however; it is the blossom of fidelity and one that we should present early to youth along with the virtue of obedience to the demands of honour and justice.

As we wander a bit further into our magnificent garden we find the yellow jasmine, a symbol of constancy, an attribute which, added to fidelity, brings a growth in character. The two combined with the lily of the valley add the reminder that loveliness among the lowly shows true greatness.

As we continue to walk in this sacred place we always keep close to the sun, our Holy Book, warming ourselves by its rays. The blossoms we have attained so far are precious, but there is still more room for planting. Then we see the regal white lilies! They stand before us as queens of the universe. It often takes stature to be those lilies, those blossoms of loyalty. They speak out for right even though it is unpopular. To be pure in heart and to have courage is not always easy.

No garden is complete without greenery. Soft grass, hedges, ferns; they bring out the majesty of the flowers and compliment them. Fidelity, Constancy and Loyalty need the strength that comes through faith. Without faith and without hope our garden would lose most of its beauty. Upon entering we did not, however, notice the green first. It sort of grew upon us until we came to this one lovely fern near the end of our floral journey. But on looking back upon the pathway we trod, we noticed that the greenery was growing throughout the whole garden, not in just one spot. How sorry a place this would be should it all be removed. How important it is – the green spray of faith!

And then when all these enchanting blossoms have met our eyes, we gaze upon one, which is the culmination of all others – the bloom of love. Love that is kind, forgiving, love that overcomes all else in the world. Without these love blossoms in the garden, life would be harsh.

We leave our beautiful Star Garden with reluctance. Our feet have trod on sacred ground and in our hearts have been planted anew all the seeds of the precious virtues we have been shown.

We will leave the garden with a determination to care for and tend these wonderful flowers, which God in His goodness has given to us. In turn we can make God’s Garden on Earth a place of peach and happiness where people walk side by side in brotherly love. If we do this He had said,

“He will walk with us and He will talk with us,
He will tell us we are His own;
And the joy we share in the garden there,
None other will have ever known.”

I want to thank you Worthy Matron, for allowing my Bible to rest on your Altar tonight. As you all know, this is the Bible that was presented to me by Sister Marion Loffelmann, P.G.M., at my Installation. She in turn received it from Sister Alta Fowler, P.G.M. At the end of the meeting, I would like you and the Worthy Patron to both sign it. The beautiful Bible marker was hand painted by Sister Louise Wilkinson, P.G.M. I hope everyone takes a chance to have a look. I also want to thank you Worthy Matron for using my gavel tonight. This gavel is the one presented to me by the WGP, Brother Bill and Sister Fabienne at my Installation last October. I would also ask that after the meeting the Chapter Officers and the Grand Officers remain for pictures.

Thank you again, Worthy Matron, for all your courtesies tonight and for your wonderful donation to my Special Project. It is very much appreciated.

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