In our infirmary on the nurses’ desk, there is a small blackboard which has a new saying every day. This one caught my eye. “Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.” My immediate thought was, “The first word in the Rule of Benedict is ‘listen.’” Later I thought, “The Rule has a chapter on silence.” Finally, I thought, “This would be a good topic for my upcoming blog.”
I believe it was Carl Jung, the noted psychologist, who said, “People pay $100.00 an hour just to have someone listen to them.” To be a good listener we must give our full attention to the one speaking. That is, we must silence all the voices inside and out. We ought not to be planning dinner menu for the next day or what we will say when the person is finished talking or what have to do at the office the next day. It takes discipline to be attentive and to recognize and still our inner voices.
At worship and at prayer it is necessary to have inner silence to be present and active. Again, from experience we know how difficult it is to still the inner voices that keep from listening and participating. We have to let go and keep returning to the inner silence. (One writer says that he makes distraction part of his prayer.
Even to enjoy fully a spring day we need to be inwardly still so that we can hear the sounds around: the birds singing, the branches swaying and the crickets doing whatever it is that they do!
Regarding our relationship with God, Scripture says simply, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.
Sr. Justina Franxman, OSB