The Whole Ball of String
by Thomas Higens

Years ago I went to a friendís house and while I was there he showed me his string collection. It wasnít very impressive. It was in fact simply a ball of string made up of a batch of little pieces. Over the years he had saved up what appeared to be thousands of pieces of string and yarn that he ceremoniously tied end to end and rolled them into a ball. It was not a very neat ball and it in fact had dozens if not hundreds of bits sticking out from all sides. Oddly enough I often think of that ball when reading or listening to a lecture or watching a documentary. I remember asking my friend why he maintained such unusual hobby. His response, like his ball of string at the time was not very impressive. He simply said that he liked to look at it, pick it up and hold it sometimes when he was thinking.


At the time I did not pay much attention to it and as time passed we lost contact with each other. These days I often think about that ball of string. I usually recall it when someone asks me what is to be found or learned by becoming a Freemason. These days the answer is always the same. I smile, remembering the face of my friend and his ball of string with all the loose ends sticking out every which way and reply: Just a ball of string. Some are intrigued by the answer and continue the conversation while others think me crazy and switch the subject. Those who continue the conversation may eventually hear how every person and event has a story much like a timeline that runs on a linear plane for years, decades and even centuries through generation after generation.. The story of those people and events intersect and crisscross just like all those pieces of string that I saw at my friendís house long ago.


I seldom go deeply into the philosophy or the allegory that I see in the ball of string. I usually move on to the part about how the person should stop by and visit the lodge and chat with some brothers because I am highly unqualified to answer a personís questions in the matter. I always smile for a while though knowing that the ball of string was much like life, if you pick up even one loose end you will soon find that the whole universe is connected to it. This is what I found in becoming a Freemason and I sort of wish I could bump into my friend again because in my own way I have collected many bits of string that I often hold and ponder. So in the end, I guess in becoming a Freemason one can find something as simple as a ball of string or the whole universe. It just depends on what you are seeking and what you are capable of seeing.



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