Thoughts on A Thing of the Spirit

by Jeff Hayward, 2004 National Chief

In 1915, Dr. E. Urner Goodman founded an organization that would have a great impact on the Scouting movement. Our founder's vision for our Order was a program built on the principles of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service that recognized older Scouts for service to their unit. After nearly ninety years, his legacy is the organization that we know today  Scouting's National Honor Society.

Goodman spoke countless times throughout his life about a certain thought, about the Things of the Spirit. In the foreword to the 1961 edition of the Order of the Arrow Handbook, Goodman wrote:

"The Order of the Arrow is a thing of the spirit rather than of mechanics. Organization, operational procedure, and paraphernalia are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit count"

I'm sure that many of us have seen these words of our founder used at one time or another, and while it is easy to grasp the main idea of what he meant, I contemplate his words and wonder what these things of the spirit are that he refers to.

Recently, I attended my lodge's spring conclave. I had a great time seeing old friends, working on our lodge's new ceremony site, and playing the part of Meteu for the Pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies for the last time.  It was during this time I came to a new realization.  After I was inducted into the OA, I started to get involved, first in my chapter and then on the lodge level  working on and chairing committees, helping out with ceremonies, and running for various lodge offices. Getting involved and active in the Order gave me many responsibilities and required my attendance at all lodge functions, but this was not why I went to our lodge's meetings. I stayed active because of the feeling I got when the weekend or meeting was over knowing that I had just spent some time with my best friends, that we had in some way given back to our local council or Scouting, and that we were part of a truly great organization committed to serving the youth of our nation.

Being an Arrowman is more than just wearing a white sash or going to lodge executive committee meetings or conclaves. While these too are important, it is about living up to the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law in our daily lives, about setting the positive example at all times, about being a friend to all, and about cheerfully serving others. It is about living by the three principles of the Order of the Arrow - Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service. These are what make the OA a strong organization. These are the things that truly count. These are the Things of the Spirit.

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