“Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant” Thank you Mrs. Esty, Latin and biology teacher at Macdonald High School, wherever you are! Although English is usually classified as a Germanic rather than a Romance language, many English words originate in the ‘dead’ language of Latin. And whether you are in the ‘arts’ or ‘sciences’ it often helps to know the etymology of certain terms.
The word serenity is from Latin serenus ‘calm, peaceful’ plus the suffix -itas. The first part of the word is the English adjective serene, with its synonyms calm, peaceful, tranquil, composed and perhaps even mellow. The Latin suffix corresponds to our English suffix -ity and has the meaning ‘quality or state.’ Serenity.
What comes to mind when you consider this quality? Is it a gentle, pastoral scene, or misty hills in the distance, the cathedral-like arches of a forest canopy or the stillness of moonlight on water? It could remind you of the welcome quiet of prayer or reading, or the simple enjoyment of the creative arts. Perhaps it’s the thoughtful, solitary picking of a nameless song on a guitar, or ‘playing’ alone with another musical instrument. The word may prompt the image of the duck that appears to float so effortlessly while paddling furiously underneath or remind you of the motivational phrase, first coined in 1939, for obvious reasons, ‘across the pond’, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
It could be the inspirational “Serenity Prayer” that speaks to you, attributed most frequently to American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and so well known within groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
Is authentic serenity one of your characteristics?
“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.” Matthew 8:23-26
Jesus was not just talking to the waves!
Prayer: Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm;
still me, Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease,
Lord, enfold me in your peace.
by David Adam