Wasting Time is a Loving Devotion

Mark and Denise Wetzel, Our Lady Queen of Peace statue, New Castle, Delaware
Mark and Denise Wetzel, Our Lady Queen of Peace statue, New Castle, Delaware

I have been attempting to do contemplative prayer. My spiritual director explains contemplative prayer as “wasting time before God”. The idea is to be quiet and love God and let God love you. That is it! Seems simple BUT it can be challenging especially when there are a million things going on in your mind and in your life.

One day, I was trying to relax and just be with God, but my mind drifted to thinking about my son Mark. Mark is considered a minimally speaking autistic person which means he can say words or phrases but may not actually mean what he is saying. In 2023, our family began a spelling journey with Mark. The ‘journey’ was to teach him to spell so he could communicate more verbally with others. At first, it was Mark and I in the spelling sessions and then Mark’s dad Henry joined in the learning last December. Please understand that speech is different than language. Yes, my son Mark can say certain words (speech), but he cannot make his inmost thoughts known (language). It is our hope that spelling will provide Mark a path for him to “open up” his interior dialogue. This would be life altering for not only Mark but for us as a family.

Mark and I attend weekly spelling sessions to learn methods to communicate. A mental narrative I’ve adopted during our spelling sessions is to presume competence and know that Mark hears and understands everything I say to him. I am also, outside of our spelling sessions, working on making more of an effort to build our mother-son relationship. He has spelled that he wants this! Of course he does! I don’t know many humans who do not want relationships with others. Yes, I am “with” Mark all day because his autism prevents him from living on his own but am I really WITH him? If I am, how do I do this? The answer I came up with was by spending time with him intentionally—that is how. It might seem to an “outsider” I am just wasting time with Mark, but it is never a waste of time to be with someone you love.

As I was mentioning at the start of my story, I was thinking about Mark during one of my contemplative prayer times. A parallel popped into my mind. When I pray to God, I am talking to Him, and I know He is listening to me. It is the same with Mark. Wow, this is cool! Like with God, when we talk to Mark, he is listening and understanding everything we are saying say to him although he doesn’t respond. I talk to him, and I know that he is hearing me, even if he cannot respond back. In the past, there were times that I stopped trying to communicate with Mark, because I was not getting that immediate feedback, verbal response from him.

Do you ever feel that God is not hearing you?! Keep talking, keep praying! Build that relationship with Him because that IS what God wants for us. Waste time before God—it’ll be worth it!

-Denise Wetzel