Posted: February 21, 2014
My grandmother’s name was Florence Storms before she married my grandfather, when she became Florence Still.
Every so often, I become enthralled by a word. I look it up in the dictionary, research its origins, seek out its various meanings and applications. I become aware of using it in my writing and speech. Right now, that word is “still.”
My curiosity arose while meditating on a Bible verse, Psalm 37:7, which starts, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
As I turned over the word “still” in my mind, I became still. My breath became steady and slow. I felt calm.
Then, I got out the dictionaries. This is my idea of fun.
According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, “still” is from the Old English word, “stille,” which means “to place, set up, standing, immobile.”
Though this is its basic meaning, it still contains many nuances. It is a hard-working word. Here are some definitions for its work as an adjective:
without sound; quiet, silent
hushed, soft, or low in sound,
not moving; stationary; at rest; motionless
tranquil; calm; serene
Still, in its work as an adverb, also applies to time:
At or up to the time indicated, whether past, present or future
Nevertheless; even then; yet
Still is used as an intensifier in comparisons, as in, “It was cold yesterday, but it’s still colder today.”
The Cambridge International Dictionary of English, originating in Great Britain, lists the word’s multiple nuances in separate entries and gives many examples.
Still (continuing): continuing until this or that time: I’m still hungry.
Still (despite): despite that: I did the best I could, but I still didn’t get the job finished.
Still (greater degree): to an even greater degree or in an even greater amount: The company is hoping to extend its market still further.
Still (not moving): not moving; staying in the same position: Children find it difficult to stand still for very long.
Still is also a verb, as in, “He tried to still the swaying of the rope bridge as he walked across.”
It is good to do all this research, but at some point, I put away the reference books and quiet (or still) myself. I think about the act of stilling myself. Psalm 23 comes to mind, the verse that says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.”
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” As I continue in silence and stillness, I sense something, a divinity with me and within me. Be still. Know. Be. Know.
When I consider my grandmother, how she was a Storm that turned into a Still, it speaks to me of contentment. The rest of the verse in Psalm 37 says, “Do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” I have everything I need. And into that stillness perhaps others will be drawn.
Then, there is the continuing. There are people who are still in my life: family and longtime friends. It works the other way, too; I am still in their lives. Perhaps reaching out to people is a spiritual practice I should ink into my daily planner.
And on and on. Still. I feel like the word, like still waters, is something I could look into for a long time and still not comprehend all of its depths.
Think about it: Still.
Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney. Contact her at RuralPen@aol.com, on Facebook or care of the DN-R.