“My Part”, part 2

(This is a continuation of the previous post called “Silent Love Challenge“.)

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Having arranged the Wednesday morning silent yoga that the not-so-quiet voice directed to me do, I was driving to our first day alone.  In the silence of my mind I heard a couplet I remembered hearing many times:

Whate’re thou art

Act well thy part.

What scripture is that?  Wait, maybe it is Shakespeare. I was early enough to the studio to do a quick search.  I was surprised by the story I found.

In 1898, a young missionary in Scottland saw a newly placed plaque on an apartment building.  The engraved words were taken from a Gaelic proverb.  These words became engraven in his heart and he would repeat them often to the church members he led. 

The kind, white-haired David O. McKay was the prophet leader of my church when I was born in 1963.  Though he died when I was only 6, I have memories of him.  Those words must have been repeated often in my childhood.  Half a century later, they popped into my mind like an old friend coming for a visit.

Quoting from the article I found by Nathan Bryce:

Around 5 o’clock that evening, as [the missionary companions] walk home, Elder McKay noticed a strange sign that was recently chiseled over the entrance to a new apartment building.

This engraving was created by architect John Allan, whose signature trademark was adding mottos and symbols to his buildings. This one is known as the “Albany Place tablet.”

At the top of the stone is the phrase, “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” Most people assumed this was a quote from Shakespeare, but in fact it is the Old English translation of an old Gaelic proverb:

Deannadh gach neach a dhicheal

— Gaelic Proverb

In addition to the motto, I have found that the symbols are also quite significant. You see, this is a numeric magic square, where the symbols represent numbers and when the number in a vertical column or in a horizontal row or even diagonally are added up, they all sum to the same number. In this case, it is 18.

“Why is this significant? Because if just one symbol is misunderstood, misplaced, or is missing, the entire square loses its meaning. Let’s say you didn’t interpret the pentagon shape as the number five (because it has five sides), but used a different number, or no number at all, the puzzle doesn’t make sense. It has lost all of its “magic” and just becomes an abstract piece of art.”

I have pondered again and again what “my part” is in light of the events of 2020.

I have come to understand that “my part” is to “act well” in small, loving ways each day.  Little did young David McKay imagine that his determination to “do his part” would echo more than a hundred years later in my ears.  The ripple effect is extremely underrated!

A prophetic scripture from the Old Testament says the day will come when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  I see this as an ocean of love and connection to higher vision.  How is it possible that this could be so expansive as to cover the whole earth like waters cover the sea?

My little drops of daily love and kindness, combined with yours and many other good people’s drops will eventually fill the whole earth! I am discovering that my part it is not some grand contribution, but it is in my daily drops of love and kindness and joy. This sounds trite. I have heard similar sentiment many times, but THIS time, something has shifted inside.

An architect’s etching from 1896 touched a young man in 1898 and touched me in 2020. In his life, Architect Allan would have had no idea how his personal work would change the world into future generations.

Likewise, I will not likely know in my lifetime the impact of my contributions. If I have an impact now or later, it is because I shared my love.

Some days, that looks like spending a day in my garden. Some days, that looks like drawing or writing or making a video. Many days it looks like making a meal, checking in on my husband, kids, extended family and friends. Mostly, it is just being, not doing. It is seeing, feeling, allowing, noticing, staying. being aware. In a word, it is love.

That’s my part. That’s your part. Let’s do it well.

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Reference links:

Nathan Bryce article

BYU article

Elder Quentin L. Cook: What E’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part: Avoid Wearing Masks That Hide Your Identity

Funny!: That last article… I noticed it in a search and the phrase “Avoid wearing masks” jumped out at me. I clicked on it wondering if it was advising us to not wear face masks during this time of Covid 19 Pandemic. I chuckled at my mind’s assumption when I saw that it was a talk given in 2012.

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