Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Standing By

Years ago (before cellphones) we lived in a remote location and communicated by single side band radio.  At times when we wanted the other party to know we’d keep our radio on and be available for further messages, we’d say “We’re standing by.” 

What does it mean to “stand by” in your dialect of English?  (It’s fascinating to study how words and phrases change as they are borrowed from one language to another.)

The meaning of this phrase in my American English is represented by these definitions that I found on the Internet:

stand by

–to wait and remain ready.
–to be ready to be used if necessary. During the fireworks display, the fire department trucks stood by, in case something went up in flames.

However, In the country where I live, one might see a sign that says “Bawal mag-istambay dito” (Don’t stand-by here) at a sidewalk café or a street corner.  In other words, “No loitering.” 

The difference between these two uses of the phrase is not so much about what can be seen on the outside (both look inactive) but about mindset—either alert or passive.  Which is mine as I go through life?  Am I just getting by, killing time?  Or am I prepared, watching for opportunities to serve and available when I’m needed?


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