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Experience profound enlightenment and brotherly love through "The Flight of the Winding Stairs" at the Hands Across the Border 2024 event.

30 May 24

Imagine an evening where Masonic rituals transcend both traditional boundaries and jurisdictional borders, delivering an immersive and theatrical presentation that captivates and educates. How can such an approach transform and improve our understanding of Craft?

Hosted by the brethren of Lodge Belvoir No. 727 UGLV, the Hands Across the Border 2024 event welcomed Masons and Grand Officers from neighbouring jurisdictions, including the Grand Masters of both the United Grand Lodge of Victoria, MW Bro Anthony Bucca, and the United Grand Lodge of NSW & ACT, MW Bro Lesley Hicks. These esteemed leaders, accompanied by delegations of their Grand Officers, exemplified the unity and camaraderie that transcend the boundaries of their separate and sovereign jurisdictions. The day began with an outstanding presentation of “The Flight of the Winding Stairs” by the NSW brethren, showcasing their dedication to Masonic education and enlightenment. Following this enlightening session, the brethren from Victoria hosted a wonderful dinner at the Wodonga Bowling Club, where the spirit of friendship and brotherhood was celebrated.



UGL of NSW & ACT Grand Lodge Delegation




This event was designed not just as another Masonic meeting but as a powerful experience that aimed to bring happiness through humility, kindness, and generosity. The main feature of the evening was a unique portrayal of the Second Degree Tracing Board, an intricate Masonic ritual known as "The Flight of the Winding Stairs." This presentation was meticulously crafted to ensure that attendees would leave with a deeper understanding of Masonic principles and an enriched sense of brotherhood.

The night began with palpable excitement as the Deputy Grand Master & Grand Master Elect of UGL NSW & ACT, RWB Khris Albano, took the floor to commence the First Degree with an extended version of the charge traditionally given by the Senior Warden to newly initiated brethren. This charge, delivered to an Entered Apprentice exemplar chosen from the attendees, symbolised the initiate's entry into the Craft. The lambskin apron, a potent emblem of purity and innocence, was presented, marking a significant milestone in a Mason's journey. Following this, the Deputy Grand Master offered a comprehensive review of the grand principles of Freemasonry, including the modes of recognition and cardinal virtues such as Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. These teachings were woven into a fluid, discourse-like flow, punctuated by subtle perambulations around the lodge room to emphasise the relevance of its furnishings and symbols.

The move to Second Degree marked a dramatic shift in the evening's proceedings. The lodge was formally opened in the Second Degree and subsequently brought to refreshment, setting the stage for a transformative experience. The room itself underwent a remarkable transformation into the legendary Second Tracing Board. Two iconic great pillars rose majestically over the entrance of the lodge, symbolising the pillars at the entrance of Solomon's Temple. The winding stairs, a symbol of the journey to enlightenment, spread around the mosaic pavement, creating a vivid backdrop for the epic portrayal of the craftsmen's ascent to the Middle Chamber of King Solomon's Temple. The meticulous attention to detail in recreating these symbols ensured that the brethren were fully immersed in the ritual’s rich symbolism.

As the presentation progressed, two ancient wardens came to life, commanding the attention of all in attendance. Two volunteer Exemplars were chosen from among the brethren and placed in their proper positions between the pillars, ready to embark on a transformative journey. Under the guidance of RWB Don Pandes and VWB Jurjen Tayag, acting as Deacons, the exemplars began their ascent up the Winding Stairs. With each step, the Deacons expounded on the profound symbolism of the pillars, revealing the multilayered significance of the numbers 3, 5, and 7. These numbers correspond to the three principal officers of the lodge, the five orders of architecture, and the seven liberal arts and sciences. The exemplars listened intently, absorbing the ancient wisdom and discovering the deeper meanings hidden within the ritual, which reinforced the importance of intellectual and moral development in a Mason’s life.

One of the most impressive and memorable elements of the presentation was the high-tech innovation embedded within the pillars, crafted by VWB Edgar Dela Cruz. This unexpected feature elicited gasps of astonishment from the brethren. Through ingenious technology, the pillars came alive, adding an extra layer of depth and mystery to the already captivating presentation. The use of audio and visual effects, meticulously planned and executed, created an atmosphere of reverence and wonder, enhancing the overall experience. The choreographed placement and retrieval of props, executed with precision and skill, added a theatrical quality to the presentation that left the brethren in awe. Many attendees later described the experience as a professional, theatre-like production that transported them to the very heart of the Masonic journey.

As the Exemplars reached the Middle Chamber, they were greeted with further revelations and insights. The Deacons shared additional information, including the profound duality of meaning behind the letter "G" suspended in the centre of the lodge room. This letter represents both God and Geometry, emphasising the spiritual and intellectual pursuits central to Masonic teachings. This moment of enlightenment left a lasting impact on all who witnessed it, inspiring them to reflect on the deeper truths and teachings of the Craft. The brethren were reminded of the importance of seeking knowledge and understanding, and of applying these lessons to their daily lives.

The Flight of the Winding Stairs was not merely an entertaining spectacle; it served as a powerful reminder of the responsibilities and privileges that come with the attainment of Masonic knowledge. The brethren left the presentation with a renewed sense of purpose, determined to embody the cardinal virtues and apply the lessons learned to their daily lives. The event highlighted the importance of humility, kindness, and generosity, and inspired the brethren to strive for these qualities in their interactions with others. It also reinforced the value of continuous learning and self-improvement, which are central tenets of Freemasonry.

As the evening concluded, the brethren of Lodge Belvoir No. 727 UGLV and their guests stood united, their hearts filled with a profound appreciation for the rich symbolism and timeless teachings of Freemasonry. The Flight of the Winding Stairs had accomplished its mission, bringing happiness to others through humility, kindness, and generosity, while fostering a deeper understanding of the Craft's most cherished principles. The success of the presentation at the Hands Across the Border 2024 event served as a testament to the enduring power of Masonic ritual and the importance of preserving and sharing the Craft's traditions. It demonstrated that, through creativity, dedication, and a deep understanding of the Masonic journey, it is possible to create experiences that not only educate and inspire but also forge unbreakable bonds of brotherhood that transcend the boundaries of time and place.

The Hands Across the Border 2024 event will be remembered as a shining example of Masonic excellence, a testament to the skill, dedication, and vision of the brethren involved. It will serve as an inspiration for future generations of Masons, reminding them of the boundless potential of the Craft to educate, inspire, and transform lives. The innovative and theatrical presentation of "The Flight of the Winding Stairs" has left an indelible mark on all who attended, uniting the brethren in their commitment to the principles of Freemasonry and the pursuit of enlightenment. As the brethren returned to their respective lodges, they carried with them the memories of an unforgettable evening, a renewed sense of pride in their Masonic heritage, and a profound appreciation for the transformative power of the Craft.

This event underscores the vibrant presence of Freemasonry in border towns and sets a promising tone for the next bi-annual function, to be hosted by NSW in 2026, near the NSW/VIC border.

Grand Lodge Delegations from NSW & ACT and Victoria

The team that delivered "The Flight of the Winding Stairs"


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