(2019) VW Bro Ross Partridge Dip. M. Ed., PDGIW, REO2
The origin of all the working tools in Craft Masonry, can be logically traced to three instruments – the stick; the stone; and the reed or leather cord.
The Pencil has changed but little throughout the ages, and its derivation from the stick is undoubted. Before man could write, he could draw and to this day we have preserved for us the work of the hunter artist of the early middle stone age.
The Pencil has always been a means of passing on a thought and has contributed in no small measure to the advancement of civilization. Indeed those parents and Grandparents here tonight, no doubt have or remember drawings stuck on the fridge, which while not in the least bit artistic, are extremely precious to us. Without the pencil little could have been accomplished. Every man, woman or child must at one time or another have handled one, and put it to some practical use. Just think of it, with the pencil the life and actions of all mankind has been recorded in one form or another.
In medieval times the Master Mason usually would be provided with only a description of the required sizes and layout of a building that he was required to construct. More often than not, the details would be developed progressively with input from the owner over many years of construction. Thus another very important duty of the Master Mason was to prepare layout plans of the building, for the owner’s approval, from which the Master Mason would then prepare detailed designs, and working drawings. The Master Mason would also prepare detailed drawings for the most important components of the structure, even to the extent of detailing the designs of the windows and the symbolic decorations, incorporated in most ecclesiastical buildings. As the pencil and compasses were essential implements used by the Master Mason of an operative lodge, when preparing designs and drawings, it was appropriate to include them with the skirret and line as the working tools of a Master Mason in a speculative lodge.
The Pencil is the second working tool in the, NSW, the Scottish and Emulation rituals. It is the first mentioned in the Irish Ritual. Both ours and the Irish Rituals teach us that the pencil is to remind us that our words and actions are being observed and recorded by the Almighty before whom we must render an account of our conduct through life. The Scottish Ritual mentions that the pencil teaches us that the building up of our lives and characters must be according to the perfect example or plan that has been provided by the Almighty Architect. The pencil, like the quill in olden times and the pen in modern times, is also a symbol of learning and knowledge. Writing is a visible expression of the human intellect. The pencil is also a symbol of the law of God that is laid down for us in the sacred writings. As the pencil is used by the skillful architect to delineate the intended structure faithfully and accurately, so it should remind us of our responsibilities as individuals, always bearing in mind that our thoughts, words and actions are all recorded by the Most High, who, will assuredly hold us responsible for our behaviour. The symbolism of the pencil is not restricted to Freemasonry. From ancient times the pen and the tablet have been symbols of the Holy Spirit and writing has represented the divinely inspired scriptures.
In the French Rite “to hold the Pencil,” is to discharge the functions of a Secretary during the Communication of a Lodge.
The Pencil also represents flexibility. Unlike words written in ink, the pencil allows what is written never to remain permanent. Whatever mistakes we’ve made in our past can be erased. If the pencil’s point becomes dull, it can be simply re-sharpened and reused. More than two-thirds of the time the eraser is used up before the pencil. Life is sometimes filled with a greater amount of inaccuracies and disappointments than gratifying progress. But, remember that you will never learn the greatest lessons by the things that go right. The G.A.O.T.U.’s school of preparation includes some strange classes. If all we ever had was sunshine, we would have to live in the desert. He understands that there are seasons of life.
Copied from “The Educator”