Written by Comp. Squadron Leader Michael Kitching (age 37) :-
I was introduced to Freemasonry by E. Comp. Jon Callaly in 2015 and am currently SD in St Mark’s College Lodge No.2157 and looking forward to the position of JW later this year (if selected!). After becoming a MM, it was suggested that I consider joining the Royal Arch. I have to admit, at first, I was unsure whether it was too early for me; however, I do not regret taking the next “step”. At the time of writing, it is just over a year since I was welcomed into Neleus Chapter No.3062 and am currently 2nd Asst. Soj. Although I wasn’t fully aware of the significance at the time, during the meal I had the pleasure of sitting next to the Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Superintendent who kindly invited me to a Breakfast for members who have been in the Royal Arch less than two years. This was a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and discuss the Royal Arch with the Executive in an open and engaging forum. I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to partake in one of these events.
I am still at the very early stages of my Masonic journey and it is very much different to my role as a pilot in the Royal Air Force flying into places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Although one would imagine that learning ritual is very much similar to learning a checklist, it really is not, I can assure you. Many of my fellow companions (if not all) will agree that the learning of ritual can be stressful; however, it is fulfilling when things go to plan. I find learning the actions much more natural than the specific words and hope that, one day, I can emulate some of the fantastic ritual I have seen during my relatively small exposure to Freemasonry.
I haven’t yet visited as many chapters (and lodges) as I would have liked, but I understand why this is perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of Freemasonry. The work/life balance is something military personnel have to be particularly wary of, given the amount of time we spend away from our families, so I am hoping to take advantage of the opportunity to visit some venues over the next few years. I will, however, have to ensure that Home Command (I.e. my wife) approves. In March I attended the Annual Convocation at the Masonic Centre in Sindlesham which was an interesting, rewarding if not slightly overwhelming experience. The pageantry of the event was witnessed by a large audience and it was pleasing to see the inclusion of Heads of many provinces. I felt welcome even though I was probably one of the most junior companions at the meeting.
In May 2018 I was invited to attend a Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Officer Club event which included a talk from W. Bro. Eric Moody. He is famous for being the captain of a Boeing 747 (Speedbird 9) which lost power to all four engines during the cruise flying through a volcanic ash cloud near Jakarta which, as a multi engine pilot myself is not something which is expected! This event occurred when I was only just over a year old, so it was genuinely fascinating to listen to a fellow pilot talk through his experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to chat with Eric after the event, so am hoping that one of my visits in the future will be to meet him again in person.
Freemasonry for me is about meeting people and engaging with like-minded individuals. So far I have enjoyed my short time In both Lodge and Chapter and looking forward to enjoying the rest of my journey.