Beauty and Beast

Beautyand Beast What makes a person beautiful?  By Ken Shelton     Pam and I recently attended theHeber Junior Community Theater production of Beauty and the Beast,since our granddaughter, Keira Mae Su Shelton, had a key roleof narrator.  Granted, I am abiased critic, but I thought she looked every bit the part of a beautiful12-year-old princess and performed amazingly well:  never missing a line or a lyric in a song andalways hitting her mark on stage while moving and dancing.      Although she was not cast in therole of Belle, Keira adhered to the advice of Shakespeare:  “What e’re thou art, act well thy part.”It’s sterling advice for us all. 
          Once when Elder DavidO. McKay was homesick and discouraged during his mission to Scotland, he andhis companion went to see Stirling Castle. On their way back to their apartment,they passed a building with an inscription from Shakespeare carved in stone: “What E’erThou Art, Act Well Thy Part.” 
    Elder McKay recorded what the Spiritwhispered to him in his journal: “You accepted the responsibility of serving asa representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of theLord Jesus Christ. And yet all morning you’ve been sightseeing, not doing missionarywork. You gained historical information, but now you need to accept the instructionon that stone and do your part as missionaries.” 
    Beyond having a profoundimpact on Elder McKay, the stone taught him:  each individual is important, no matter howsmall or how large his part. When one neglects his duties, the equation changesand the outcome is different, since JohnAllan, the 19th-century Scottish architect of the building, inscribed the quoteon a magicsquare: an arrangement of numbers in a square grid; eachnumber appears once, and the sum in any direction is the same. Hissquare had different symbols and shapes representing numbers within the ninesquares, and each row added up to 18. The square would lose its “magic” if anyof the numbers were changed. Each square was vital to the whole.
Note:When the building that contained the stone was torn down, the stone was lostfor a time. However, years later, Mormon missionaries recognized the inscribedstone on a stone fence in the area. Knowing of its importance to PresidentMcKay, the Scottish Mission presidency acquired it and placed it on the missionhome grounds, where it remained until 1970. The stone was then sent to SaltLake City and included among his artifacts. It has been displayed in variouslocations but has been in the Church History Museum since 1984. A replica ofthe stone is still on display on the grounds of the Scotland/Ireland MissionHome.
 So, What Makes a PersonBeautiful?
            Yes, I understand that the world hasits standards for beauty that are largely external and somewhat culturallyarbitrary and superficial: size, shape, proportion and features matter most.
            Yet, in my mind, the magicof what makes a person beautiful is the authentic expression of his or her naturalshape and style—as the whole person is always greater than the sum of his orher parts, and with positive synergy, one plus one in a couple can and willequal three or more.   
            This, lest we forget, is the primarylesson of Beauty and the Beast: theBeast becomes tolerable, even handsome and princely, to Belle when she sees andexperiences his inner charm and character as he acts well his part. Then, wecan safely assume the magic happens:  when the twain becomes one flesh, the two ofthem can multiply exponentially.  Allinhabitants of the house can then transcend the provincial life and becomehuman again in some celestial mansion.
            And that, dear Keira, is yourdestiny: to become Belle, the beautiful mother of many, making princes ofbeasts and restoring humans to the best version of themselves. 


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