The Chief Point
Charles A. Sankey
13 May 1968

It is a very pleasant custom in our Niagara A district that the District Deputy Grand Master should conclude his series of official visits in his own lodge and that, as he is already familiar with its work, the evening is wholly available for what our general charge calls "the chief point in Freemasonry", namely endeavouring to be happy ourselves and communicating that happiness to others.

In Endymion, John Keats wrote (and he was referring specifically to happiness which we must distinguish from mere pleasure):-

Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks
Our ready minds to fellowship divine,
A fellowship with essence; till we shine
Full alchemized, and free of space.

At each of my official visits I have, by emphasizing Masonic-things-to-live-by, been endeavouring to show that Masonry not merely should be but can be a "fellowship divine, a fellowship with essence". Such a fellowship involves work and includes leisure but not idleness. If we agree with Keats, Masonry does indeed comprise a means to happiness and to communicating happiness.

Three pillars, which are wisdom, strength and. beauty, support our Masonic structure. These then are the foundation for a path to happiness. In the ideal you will recall that "while wisdom contrives the plan, strength lends its able support to the moral fabric and beauty adorns it with curious and cunning workmanship". It is a surprising coincidence that the Hebrew word for wisdom is Gomer whose first letter is G; for strength, Oz, whose first letter is 0; and for beauty, Dabar, whose first letter is D.

The pillar of beauty is emblematic of the Junior Warden in the south. Beauty is a quality of things grouped together in harmony. The harmony adds something extra so it is literally true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Music is an obvious example of this universal truth. Let us recognize the beauty in the order of nature.

That ther is beauty in natur and that man loveth it are one thing and the same; neither can be derived apart as cause of the other:

Let us recognize the beauty when man combines his work with the order of Nature.

These I have loved:
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many tasting food;
Rainbows; and the bitter smoke of wood
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
... the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such -
Sweet waters dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew.
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy new;
And new peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;-
All these have been my loves.

At the very least then may we not conclude with Keats:

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, ...
... yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits.

But the Masonic message is much more than this. To approach it we must join beauty to strength. The pillar of strength is emblematic of the Senior Warden in the west. I suggest that the bond joining beauty and strength is service. When, at Amity Lodge I referred to some great lives devoted to the brotherhood of man, I was impelled to do so by the assassination of Martin Luther King. The subject was too pertinent, too pressing to permit delay. Several things said there would probably have been presented tonight in what must be, for me, an attempt, inadequate and incomplete as it may be, but nevertheless an attempt to consolidate both intelligently and spiritually, the challenge of Masonic-things-to-live-by. The brotherhood of man to be real, to have strength, to become strength, is not a micronized homogeneous mass, but a fully orchestrated harmony of many parts, sharing and co-operating in the creation of a great symphonic design. The harmony, as always, adds something extra, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You and I know the word we use for the new added factor. We call it love.

At the present stage of our humanity we are just beginning to learn about love. Teilhard de Chardin said this so well. He wrote:

Some day after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for Good the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover fire.

But even when this goal is achieved the Masonic quest will be far from ended. The pillar of Wisdom is represented by the Master in the east. Our hope is, someday, to complete the triangle. We have at least one firm guidepost on the pathway that lies before us. The line from west to east goes through the centre with three great lights to guide us on our way. In your finest dreams can you imagine a greater quest, a quest with more inherent happiness in it, than, having become aware of Beauty, to discover Harmony, to approach Strength, to be filled with Love and then to travel towards Wisdom?

The builder who first bridged Niagara's gorge
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable - then the mighty bridge in air'.
So we may send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God's reaching hands,
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep -
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And - we are anchored to the Infinite.

Tonight, we draw near the end of that portion of our journey during which you have given me the honour, the privilege and the opportunity to serve as your focus. It is fitting, then, that, as a Masonic-thing-to-live-by, I give you, in its ideal form, the Chief Point of Masonry.

In the south we recognize Order and find Beauty.

High o'er the lonely hills,
Black turns to grey;
Bird-song the valley fills,
Mists fold away;
Grey wakes to green again,
Beauty is seen again
Gold and serene again
Dawneth the day.

Having gained Harmony we tread the path of service to the west.

So, o'er the hills of life,
Stormy, forlorn,
Out of the cloud and strife
Sunrise is born;
Swift grows the light for us;
Ended is night for us;
Soundless and bright for us
Breaketh God's morn.

In the west we reach Strength and discover Love.

Hear we no beat of drums
Fanfare nor cry,
When Christ the herald comes
Quietly nigh;
Splendor he makes on earth;
Colour awakes on earth;
Suddenly breaks on earth
Light from the sky.

With Happiness in our minds and hands and hearts we start out for the east.

Bid then farewell to sleep:
Rise up and run'. What though the hill be steep?
Strength's in the sun.
How shall you find at last
Eight's left behind at last,
And for mankind at last
Day has begun!