The Rhythm of Contemplation

Posted by Spalding Hurst

September 11, 2021

The Rhythm of Contemplation

By Carlette Gentle, SCN

Part of the Toolbox for Prayer series

Download in PDF format

Rhythm is known as the repeated patterns of movement or sound while contemplation is known as deep reflective thoughts that form who we are as a person. We each have a rhythm of life and how we contemplate. The rhythm of who we are flows out of us every day. As I stop to contemplate, I have come to realize that my way of contemplation is a rhythm of loving. It is a rhythm of going out and coming in. It is a rhythm of caring that sometimes feels like movements of melodious music.

So, as I stop to contemplate the rhythm of my life, I realize that I am tender. I am an antenna; my ears and heart are on high alert to pick up signals of injustices. I attend to the needs of my neighbors, the poor, the elderly, people seeking assistance and I attend with love and compassion. I work mainly with the elderly poor living on Southside Belize City. I am attentive to their needs trying to help in whatever way possible. And as I go out and attend to my clients, I also know that I have to come in and attend to me as well. As I pause to contemplate these people, these interactions, the faces come back to me as well. It’s that back-and-forth rhythm, I go out and work with them and then come in and reflect on myself and them and hold them in loving prayer as I know they do for me. The back-and-forth rhythm of loving and being loved.

“It’s that back-and-forth rhythm … the back-and-forth rhythm of loving and being loved.”

This contemplative time of slowing down and pausing is needed by my body, mind, and soul. Therefore, when my body calls out, I must create that time and space for it to happen. I know sometimes we might not believe that we need this time, but the body has a way of calling out for its needs. Thus, some days I lay in my hammock contemplating looking to the peaceful sky for assurance that I am not in this ministry alone, that I don’t have to carry the burdens of those I work with alone. And as God knows my thoughts, I believe God sends the beautiful Caribbean wind to engulf my body. I close my eyes and feel the embrace of God in the wind. This is my assurance “I am not in this alone.” After a while, I let go and let God take me where God wills. The beauty of contemplation, I believe, is letting oneself go as God guides our thoughts.


I enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen. As a result, one way I look at contemplation is allowing myself to sit in a combination of seasonings being marinated, with the seasonings of God, and of my experiences.

Taking time for the marinade to happen will assure me that the seasonings are embedded within me. And after that marinade, I then allow the time for a slow simmer in my pot of God’s loving arms. The slow simmer over low heat allows the slow process of thoughts, and the presence and love of God to mingle and create the tender that I am.

Sister Carlette Gentle is a Belizean SCN living in Belize. She has a master’s in clinical social work and a certificate in gerontology. She works with the elderly poor in the Southside of Belize City and is also the Associate vocation director for Belize. In addition, she helps to cook for the homeless. She enjoys cooking, singing, and meeting new people.

Want to read more from the Toolbox for Prayer series? Click the links below.

Using Inclusive Language and Feminine Images of God in Prayer

We all know that God is spirit and as such has no sex or gender. Unfortunately, language is too limited to describe an infinite, transcendent, non-human God with whom we desire to have a“personal” relationship. We can only talk about God in metaphors, knowing that we will never fully be able to describe God.

While male metaphors for God abound in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), there are female metaphors to help offset an overly male God view.

Feast of St. Vincent de Paul

The Central Leadership Team of SCNs Sangeeta, Jackulin and Adeline wish every Sister of Charity of Nazareth and Associate a very happy St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day.

Praying with Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul was a French priest of the 17th century whose legacy continues to this day in all who seek to live the Charism of Charity. In his early days as a priest, Vincent was challenged to discover the true meaning of his life and vocation.
Vincent was an intelligent person, a naturally gifted teacher, and well educated. Vincent was open to and often sought the counsel of others. Through the events of his personal life, his experiences as a priest, his encounters with the poor and
needy, and his openness to the grace of God, Vincent came to recognize the Providence of God leading him as his driving force.

Praying with Catherine Spalding: From the Known to the Unknown

What seems like a lifetime ago, during a third grade social studies activity about daily life for the Kentucky pioneers, I vividly remember taking turns churning
butter and pouring melted tallow into iron candle molds. I was fascinated by all they embarked upon on their journey. From an eight-year-old’s perspective, their
lives seemed unbelievably difficult – fraught with obstacles to daily survival, uncertainties about the future, and risk. I could not understand why someone
would choose this path; however, I admired the passion, grit, ingenuity and faith in God required to cross from the known into the unknown. All that I learned back then took on its own shape in my active 8-year-old imagination and I believe those early images of the pioneers awakened in me a curiosity and awe about acting on a dream. What was it like to be so strongly drawn to move into the unknown – willing to risk it all in the name of hope? I was captured by this pioneer spirit. As I grew older, my understanding became more informed, less imaginary and more inclusive of the various impacts of this westward movement. Today, it continues to be expanded as we search to recognize the full story of that era and our place in it – good or bad. We still have so much to learn. However, for this reflection, I will focus on the part that captured my interest as a child – spirit, passion and resilience.

Creating a Toolbox for Prayer

Window Gazing on Travel’ emerged as a free form of prayer for me ever since I was introduced to contemplative Spirituality within the SCN Congregation.

What Leads me to God?

A quick and easy answer to this all important question, “What leads me to God?” might be, “Everything!” That answer bears much truth in it. Plunging more deeply, however, reveals places and happenings, situations and persons who bring God front and center into my life. It could be a beautiful tree, an imposing mountain, a peaceful, winding river, the discovery of a poem, a passage from Scripture, being alert and finding God wherever the divine may be waiting for me. Places would be where Eucharist dwells and where I sit to pray. The places where I find the beauties of nature bring God right to me. A fragile flower, a singing bird, a lovely cloud call out the Creator’s name.

Creating a Toolbox for Prayer

Vipassana means “to see things as they really are.” It is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha, and is the essence of what he practiced and taught.

Two Wings of My Prayer Life

As an Indian Christian Religious, the two wings of my prayer life are Biblical and Indian Spirituality. At home, we had everyday family prayer which included Rosary and reading from the Bible. I was responsible to conduct it. It was a vocal prayer that did not touch my heart though there was devotion to do it. After coming to the Congregation too, prayer was mostly a recitation of psalms and singing of songs. Though I was faithful to it there was not much impact on my life. Prayer was like an activity I had to do but I did not enjoy it or experience anything in my heart.

Latest issue of ‘The Journey’

The second volume of The Journey Magazine for 2022 will be hitting mailboxes soon and is available to read online.

Creating a Toolbox for Prayer

Prayer is communication with the divine (Creator, Redeemer, Spirit), a
relationship, like our human relationships, that needs to be nurtured regularly. Just as in a human relationship we find different ways to build our relationships, so it is with the divine.


  1. Rosemarie Kirwan

    It’s Friday morning, and I’m just now getting to the reading of your reflections. I have seen this for myself in your life and in your care for others. May you continue to grow in the depth of your relationships and in your awareness of how much you can assure and inspire others.

  2. Martha Walsh SCN

    Although my sea is the Atlantic I join you in experiencing the calm or turbulent sea washing over me as the wind, whether gale or zephyr embraces body and spirit. With enlightenment from the sun I recall this phrase from way back in my novitiate days. “The heart of the beginner is as the sea when it surges” We are all beginners. Thanks for your thoughts and especially the hammock picture! Love, Martha

  3. Rita Davis, SCN

    Collette, so dear to my soul! Thank you for being sooooo talented, kind and fun, and prayerful!
    Love you.

  4. Sr. Ann Moyalan scn

    Such a wonderful way of blending life, prayer & ministry. I found your life inspiring & life giving . May Jesus bless you & all those whom you minister.

  5. Michelle

    I love your insights and inspired imagery! Very Vincentian and a very healthy rhythm! Thanks for contributing to our toolbox for prayer!

  6. Linda Soltis

    How insightful your comments, and how beautifully written. Thank you.

  7. Angie Shaughnessy SCN

    Dear Carlette, you have “nailed” the rhythm of contemplation. You are so wise, and you share that wisdom with humility, simplicity and charity. You are a true daughter of Catherine. You live the SCN charism.
    I am blessed to call you my sister.

  8. Maria Brocato

    Our dear Carlette, dearest thanks for this beautiful reflection. May God keep you growing in those loving Divine arms!


Leave a Reply to Angie Shaughnessy SCN Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like…

Pittsburgh Sisters Collect for Food Bank

Pittsburgh Sisters Collect for Food Bank

The Pittsburgh Community of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, along with the residents of Vincentian Villa and Terrace, participated in a food drive to honor St Vincent’s words  “…to serve the poor is to go to God.” Over 40 bags filled to the brim were delivered to North Hills Community Outreach Food Bank along with a check for $325 to continue their service to the poor.

SCNs in Pittsburgh Celebrate Jubilees

SCNs in Pittsburgh Celebrate Jubilees

Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Pittsburgh had a special liturgy and festive meal on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, to celebrate our Patron St. Vincent De Paul. The occasion also honored six Sisters who were celebrating over 400 years of combined dedicated service to the poor in the spirit of St. Vincent.

LIFE Celebrates International Day of Older Persons

LIFE Celebrates International Day of Older Persons

LIFE joined St. Martin’s Parish at their Oct. 2 mass to Celebrate the International Day of Older Persons. The theme for this year was “Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World.”