A couple of weeks ago a young mother came into the bank where I work. She was talking to a co-worker at a desk in the lobby, and from my office I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. She was blinking back tears, and her entire attitude was like someone who had witnessed a miracle. The subject of their conversation hit me, and I came to the door and stood nearby.
She was explaining that her young son had had some strange brittle bone disorder since birth. That he was always breaking his arms, only his arms, but even when crawling as a baby several times he had broken his wrists. The young family had spent years seeking a diagnosis, despite inadequate insurance. Break after break. Nothing. More breaks. No one could tell them what was wrong. And recently he had broken his arm again. The medical bills were crippling. I could still see their ghost on her heart, like the place where a lover used to lie.
They were at their wits’ end, she said. All paths had led to the same dead end. And now they were exhausted, financially, emotionally; heart-broken horror. She was about to give up. They were all about to give up. Resign their son to that place of desperate love where all parents go when they find themselves helpless.
But then it happened.
Her mother, she said, had mentioned offhand one evening by phone after the recent break, “why don’t you try to find a clown?” A clown? Yes, the guys who used to drive around in those little cars. They have some sort of children’s hospital, maybe they could help? She wasn’t hopeful, and she expressed this with that same desperation upwelling in her heart. But she had no other options. So she got on the Internet, she said, fueled with that sense of purpose that kindles hope in the cavity of suffering. If only for a time.
She began doing some research.
She found a ‘clown’, in Grand Junction. She filled out an application, and submitted it. The hope had faded, she said. It would never work. At least try, tough. At least try….
The tears began to fall. Right there at the desk in the lobby of the bank. Well, the next evening, she said, she received a call. The next evening! And not from some call-center, a secretary, or some other distanced professional charged with redlining or peeking through cracks in paper. But from a surgeon, at one of the best hospitals in the world. He told her they had accepted her son, and that they would even pay to fly him out to Salt Lake City. No charge, no charge to the family.
She was flabbergasted. Even then, days later in the bank’s lobby, she couldn’t believe it. Who were these people? She couldn’t find much information on them, she didn’t know anything about them. “The Shrine, it’s something to do with the Masons,” she said, blinking back those same tears – but new tears, tears of happiness, relief, and hope. Tears she probably hadn’t cried in years.
We discussed the Masonic fraternity a little, I dispelled a few myths, nothing serious. She wanted to know who had helped her. I was glad to oblige.
It was just the beginning. A long road they had to tread. But they weren’t alone, there were people manning the way, directing her on. It would be okay. It would be better.
At that moment, as I looked into those eyes which shone like lamps, I have never been prouder to be a Mason. Here, right before me, was the ineffable result of our charity. It can’t be put into words. It came out of my eyes: I was blinking back tears, too.
Several days later she returned to the bank. She brought her son with her, the cast still fresh on his left arm. She asked me if I was a Mason – I seemed to know a little bit about these folks, she said, and she was wondering if I could help her. She had lost the contact for the ‘clown’ she had first got in touch with. She gave me a name (not exactly the right name). She said she just wanted to thank him. She said it again. And again. I said that I was a Mason, that I didn’t know him, but I bet I could find someone who did.
That evening I called her with the contact of the Brother in Grand Junction. The Brother who had brought so much light into this darkened corner of the world. She thanked me too much – I had done nothing – but my heart was overwhelmed. There was light in rural Norwood, Colorado!
This, then, is the tangible result of Masonry in the world. Where you least expect it, it’s there. In a small rural community far from anywhere, in a place where hope had ceased to shine, for a family nearly resigned to suffering and misery, a new light blazed. It dazzled me, blinded me, and I have never quite
seen the world the same again.