From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice is an autobiography at heart. It is about one man’s lonely journey in his quest to find the meaning of life. Therefore, in some ways it’s a journal. As I began writing down some of the events that led me to my present place in life I began to see that I had a rather interesting life story. I have lived in Scotland, Canada, and Australia. These places seem exotic to those who have never lived there. I could see that even just with that I could have an interesting book. However, it was when I started adding it all together that I began to see that it was more about the invisible leading of God than the haphazard journeys of a young adventurer. So, God was the inspiration for my book!
The Through the Lattice part of the title has to do with a verse of Scripture: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, gazing through the lattice” Song of Solomon 2:8-9. Along the way on my journey, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was catching glimpses of God through the lattice as He watched me through the lattice. The Bible says that God is reflected in the things He has made (Psalm 19; Romans 1). In my search for God I was actually catching glimpses of Him at every turn. He was like that elusive highland stag on a Scottish mountain…
When we were growing up people would refer to God as “the man upstairs.” The school I attended as a kid was next door to a church. There were dormer-like windows on its steeple. We thought that God was upstairs watching us through those windows! (A friend of mine actually wrote a poem about this very thing!) At times we were sure that we saw someone looking out the window at us! Anyway, the fertile imagination of my young mind has stayed with me now that I’m much older.
The idea of God looking at us through the lattice was very inspirational to me. I entered into Freemasonry where the Omnipresence of God is spoken of as “the all-seeing eye”, like that depicted on an American one dollar bill. Some people don’t like the idea of God watching them, while others, find it a reassuring comfort. My trouble was that I had begun to wonder who God was. Was he some old guy with a long white beard that lived up in a church steeple? Who is God? That’s what inspired me to write From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice. I want to tell people about God, about how He can be seen in the things He has made. As strong as an ox, as graceful as a gazelle, as gentle as dove, as wise as an owl, I’m sure you’re getting the picture. All of God’s creation reflects something of God. I found this to be amazing and I wanted to tell others.
In Freemasonry I learned a lot about symbolism, how certain objects and ideas can be used to illustrate other things. At theological college I learned about typology, how certain themes and principles are played out or contained in the Bible. For example, David slaying Goliath is also a picture of Christ tying up the strongman, i.e., Satan. Solomon and his Temple is a picture of Christ and His Kingdom. All the Old Testament sacrifices and the shedding of animals’ blood pointed to THE sacrifice and the shedding of Christ blood to take away our sins. The list of Old Testament types and New Testament anti-types is almost endless. I wanted to share a lot of these in my book.
So, in summary and in conclusion, I was inspired to write my book because I was just bursting to tell others about God in Jesus Christ and how God can be seen in the things He has made. However, my book is peppered with Biblical references because it was in the pages of the Bible (the Masonic Lodge had presented me) that I found the One to which everything in creation and in Scripture points, i.e., Jesus Christ.
I was born in Ontario, Canada when the leaves turned a beautiful red and gold in the fall. With mum and dad and my two older brothers we sailed across the Atlantic to my parent’s native Scotland when I was two. As my brother Stuart remembers it, “we sailed from the St. Lawrence in November 1958 in the bowels of the Royal Mail ship, Carinthia, taking a week to cross the winter Atlantic … We arrived off Greenock in a dense fog and taken ashore by tender – wow, despite the murky gloom we got a first sighting of a double-decker bus. We entrained for St. Enoch station in Glasgow where we were met by Aunt Pearl and Uncle George who took us to Miller Road in Haldane where we stayed for some months.”
I grew up in the Vale of Leven on the southern end of Loch Lomond. I left school at fifteen to work in a Glasgow shipyard but subsequently became an apprentice plumber in my home town of Alexandria. In 1977, just before my twenty-first birthday, I moved back to Toronto, Canada to work as a journeyman plumber.
On a trip back to Scotland I met Dorothy. We married in 1981 in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I worked as a railway pipefitter for Canadian National Railway. Our marriage produced three beautiful daughters who are now all grown up and married. It was after ten Manitoba winters that we pulled up stakes and moved to sunny Queensland where I studied to be a Presbyterian minister.
Ordained in 1998 I pastored congregations in Springsure and in Brisbane, with a five year stint in beautiful Tasmania. We have now settled back in Brisbane where I work part time as an Army Chaplain. The rest of my time is spent writing mostly theological items but I’m trying my hand at novel writing. I also write for a monthly Australian writer’s magazine called FreeXpresSion. I self-published a collection of these writings in a book titled The Song of Creation & Other Contemplations (ISBN 0-9757588-7-X).
I like strumming my guitar and writing songs, watching movies and reading good books. I openly admit to enjoying contemplating God’s creation, appreciating birds, bees, mountains, trees, good food and the occasional single malt.
You can find my blog at: Snow Off the Ben