I was commissioned to do a talk one time on a Cursillo weekend (a retreat that helps to enrich a person's faith). My talk was supposed to focus on the importance of reading books, watching movies, listening to music and even doing internet research on or about your faith...looking into God and faith in order to strengthen your faith.
While preparing my talk I somehow found myself centering in on the story of Mary and Martha in the bible...where Mary was franticaly waiting on Jesus and becoming frustrated with Martha because all she would do was SIT at the feet of Jesus and just listen. Martha wouldn't lift a finger to help Mary and Mary was stuck trying to make everything perfect for their guest all by herself. Jesus finally pipes up and says to Mary...in so many words...calm down! Martha is doing the right thing! Just be still and listen!
It must have been a message that someone...or many of us...on that particular weekend needed to hear because it turned out that several other people who had talks to prepare used that story and message as well...that we need to listen more and talk less...take time to be still and look into the things that can help us hear and understand Jesus more.
Before a person gives a talk on a Cursillo weekend s/he waits in a prayer chapel where people pray with and for them. There is quiet time and time to discuss whatever is on your mind before you give your talk. When I was in the chapel before my talk I mentioned to the woman praying for me there that I had this element in my talk that seemed to be a theme so far on the weekend about being still and listening. She sat there a moment, wrote something on a piece of paper, then turned to me and said, "You know, while you were talking just now it occurred to me that the words 'listen' and 'silent' have the same letters in them...so I had to write it out and see, look...they are the same letters, just in a different order."
To listen, truly listen, we do need to silent our mouths, our brains, our emotions...all the things that interfere with our ability to learn and see and hear. I don't think it's a mistake that listen and silent both have the same letters. I think it's another little miracle that has a simple, yet very important message imbedded in it.
Whether you're trying to learn something...or just showing your kids or spouse that you are really listening to them...try training your thoughts and mouth and emotions to be silent so that you can really hear and learn. We're so busy, like Mary, trying to make things perfect in our lives that sometimes we forget all we really need to do is to sit, be silent, and listen.