A successful lodge needs to be willing to look critically at every aspect of itself and determine ways it can improve itself. This continuous improvement cycle is nothing new and it embodies concepts which are put into practice on a daily basis by successful individuals and organizations.
For this article, I’ll be talking about Chambers of Refraction. A Chamber of Refraction is the room in which a candidate or brother is placed in before taking each degree and the majority of Texas lodges practice the use of these Chambers even though many, if not all, are unconscious of doing so.
A Chamber of Refraction has several common features:
- The room is dirty and in disarray.
- Various types of clothing can be found ranging from coats to costumes. Clothing racks are optional.
- Cabinets and/or bookcases full of various objects which have been placed without rhyme or reason.
- Broken or unused furniture and appliances.
- Appendant body paraphernalia.
- Brooms, mops, and other cleaning equipment.
If your ‘room adjoining the lodge contains three or more items on this list then
congratulations you have a Chamber of Refraction!
Moving From Refraction To Reflection…
I believe it’s fair to say that in the spirit of continuous improvement we can only enhance a typical Chamber of Refraction. That being the case, what would the ‘best practice’ for a preparation room look like?
I believe that an ideal preparation room should resemble a Chamber of Reflection as closely as a lodge’s jurisdiction will allow. If you’d like to learn more about Chambers of Reflection then I’d recommend “A Time With Patience” by W.B. Andrew Hammer. In short, a Chamber of Reflection is a preparation room intended for quiet contemplation of one’s life, the degrees they’ve taken and the lessons they’ve learned, or anything else that might be appropriate. Any decoration or objects in the room tend to be symbolic and meaningful and contribute to the solemnity of the situation.
A Chamber of Reflection encourages a man to look within himself for wisdom, a Chamber of Refraction causes a man to look without the lodge building for the answers he seeks.
Chambers of Reflection are somewhat of a new idea to American Freemasonry but they are not a new idea to our fraternity. Their usage would not be an innovation but instead, they would be positive contributions to our lodges by making our preparation rooms cleaner and more dignified and our degrees more solemn and meaningful.
I also want to point out that the transition from Refraction to Reflection doesn’t have to be all or nothing, every lodge is unique. Work towards improvement that your lodge (and, most importantly, Grand Lodge) is comfortable with. Even if your lodge can’t (or won’t) go for a full blown Chamber or Reflection, you can at least work towards marking items off the list at the beginning of this article and, for many lodges, that’s a huge improvement.