Meandering Around the Grange Way of Life
by Walter Boomsma
The following is a chapter from the book “Exploring Traditions—Celebrating the Grange Way of Life” and is reprinted with permission.
It might be seen as unfortunate that we most often only install officers once a year for there is much to consider in the installing officer’s opening remarks. We learn, for example, that our Order’s teachings, “…accompany members in their daily pursuits. They form part of the
farmer’s daily life. They do not call him from his work to put his mind on any other subject, but furnish recreation in his daily duties, and by cheerful instruction, lighten
and elevate his labor.”
I am always a little saddened when I hear comments like “our Grange doesn’t meet in the winter,” in part because it feels somehow wrong—as if we are setting aside what is meant to be an important part of our daily life. I do understand the practicalities of sub-zero temperatures
and winter travel difficulties. But I also wonder how many meetings our forefathers canceled because of weather.
I have often said that I don’t think our forefathers founded the Grange so we could have meetings and “do” the Ritual. Those activities are clearly secondary and designed to support what the Grange is supposed to be doing. I started this series of columns in a large part because I wanted to learn what the “Grange way of life” is all about. How does being a Granger impact our lives and “lighten and elevate” our labor?
We are an organization driven by teaching whether it be in degree work, the Obligation Ceremony, or Installation of Officers. Our meeting Ritual is designed to remind us of those teachings and every meeting includes a “lecturer’s program” that should be stimulating our thinking. All this teaching at least implies just what role the Grange should play in our daily lives. “Honesty is inculcated, education nurtured, temperance supported,
brotherly love captivated, and charity made an essential characteristic.”
The installing officer is, it seems, reminding us of what the Grange is all about. There is, of course, an emphasis on agriculture both as a science and as a way to “enhance the value and increase the attractions of our home.”
Valley Grange Master Jim Annis is fond of observing, “You rarely see a skinny Granger.” Perhaps we are paying too much heed to the first part of the installing officer’s reminder, “…we believe there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor.”
Duties and responsibilities accompany Grange membership, but it must not escape our notice that words like “cheerful” and “enjoy” appear often in the installing officer’s comments and throughout Grange teaching.
When we begin to fully understand those teachings, we discover that Grange life is about far more than meetings and the Ritual. “… to all interested in Agriculture, who have generous hearts and open hands to help the needy, raise the fallen, and aid in making the labors of this life
cheerful, we say, ‘Welcome to the Grange.’”
If you call my cell phone number and I don’t answer, you’ll get to hear me say, “Sorry I can’t take your call right now. I’m busy trying to make the world a better and happier place.” When I first adopted it, I was just trying to do something different and perhaps a little entertaining. It’s now become both a personal mission and a slogan. When you think of it, isn’t that what a Granger should be doing? Maybe the next time somebody asks me what the Grange does I’ll answer, “We make the world a better and happier place.”
It could be just that simple.
Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual or the most recent edition of the Pomona Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange. Information about the book “Exploring Traditions—Celebrating the Grange Way of Life” can be found at http://abbotvillagepress.com, on Amazon, or by contacting the author.