As I have the privilege to serve our Fellowship as Grand Musician, a role that draws upon my years of musical pleasure and performance and immerses me in the joys and disciplines, the rules and conventions of harmony, I am struck by how the concept of how harmony applies to the Odd Fellows. Musical harmony is the result of several notes coming together to make an effective much greater than that which a single note can create. There is the obvious similarity between the three notes of a basic chord and our three revered watchwords: Friendship, Love and Truth. These three words and concepts together evoke a feeling of collective warmth and integrity. However, I believe that harmony has even more profound meanings for the Odd Fellows, both externally and internally. It is clear to me that achieving and maintaining some important harmonies is vital for the very survival of our order.
Harmony among the Odd Fellows
Musical harmonies bring together a variety of notes that complement one another. A vital, effective Lodge will have a variety of voices, ideas and personalities that work together to create a satisfying, effective, harmonious environment. Just as new notes added to an existing cord to create a new, richer one, new members, with the new voices and ideas can make a Lodge more interesting and more able to survive in a rapidly changing word. Such new faces, ideas and abilities should be sought, welcomed and integrated into the life of the Lodge. Our world’s tastes in rhythm, melody and harmony changes with the generations. The same happens with institutions. Our Lodges must embrace new people, hear their voices and warmly include them in our Fellowship’s song to the world if we are to prevail.
Harmony in the Hall
The impression given by some of our facilities to a person coming into them for the first time, is that of a tired, out-of-date, run-down set of rooms, out of harmony with the Odd Fellows’ desire and claim of lively relevance. Although recognition and relevance for our traditions and rituals should be expressed, the mood created by our interiors should not feel like a dirge to bygone times, but rather an anthem to enduring greatness, quite in touch with today’s world. Some tune-ups and even some serious “make-overs” are in order.
Harmony on the Street
To a large extent, the face we show to the world is the exterior of all buildings. And how they look on the outside provides cues to what and who is inside. It is vital that the facades of our facilities, the envelopes if you will, are in harmony with the streetscape, the community and the times. The local IOOF hall, inside and out, should look like something where local community members want to belong, a place that is harmonious with their lifestyles and aspirations.
Harmony in our Hearts
In these discordant times in the world I want our facilities, both inside and out, and our members both long term and new, to represent and to work and play in harmony, and that our doors open to reveal a Fellowship of Brothers and Sisters that bring together the sacred music of America’s glorious call for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness with the Odd Fellows’ glorious refrain of Friendship, Love and Truth.