Day 2: Exhausted Contortionists

Exhausted Contortionists

BY LAUREN MORTON | March 3, 2022
Today’s Readings

Black women are contortionists. 

In today’s reading, we are invited to heed God’s voice by holding fast to him and taking up our own cross each day.

For many Black women, the daily bending and twisting our bodies and spirits to meet often unsaid or unequal expectations is exhausting. Our bodies, words, hair, and presence are policed, and our credentials are constantly questioned. Yet, when something is not working right or needs to be fixed—from the classroom to the voting booth, and everything in between—we are the group everyone turns to. Contorting our bodies again for the common good. Placing our own crosses down to carry everyone else’s. We are exhausted.  

Exhausted Contortionists

What does it profit us to gain the world and lose ourselves? We are returning to ourselves with our eyes fixed on the eternal hope and blessings of the Lord: Finding peace by reengaging with intentional silence and prayerful rest with the women who have held the communities up to our young women in high school. Introducing Black women to individual and group spiritual direction alongside the ways we have gathered for centuries with one another, holding our sisters up in need of prayer warriors or therapy, because the two can exist together. 

We are taking some much needed and deserved time for ourselves. Collectively, we are exhausted. No more contortionist performances. To fully do God’s work, we must be standing upright.

For reflection: 

  • How are you being called to make space for yourself or others to rest? 
  • If applicable, in your own work to build a more just world, how do you intentionally or unintentionally put the burden of labor on Black women, or on others who are impacted by injustice? 
18 replies
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Black, White, Yellow, and Brown – are all pilgrims blessed with opportunities to rebuild Planet Earth our Common Home.

    • Jenny Nowalk
      Jenny Nowalk says:

      I really enjoyed beginning these Lenten reflections yesterday on Ash Wednesday. I must confess I was challenged to once again be reminded of the many, many struggles and challenges that face black women. Currently I am working with the people in my neighborhood who are marginalized and forgotten. These families are almost universally Caucasian. Yes, they are what we call where They live in the heartland of America where are by all rights everyone should have plenty of food . They are surrounded by fields but sadly most of those fields are growing either soy for manufacturing other food or corn for manufacturing ethanol . The farms are owned by corporations. What really saddens me is when another “white person“ especially another “white woman“ questions why a homeless woman cannot get shoes for her child. In other words, it’s this woman who is an abject failure. in the eyes of another white woman because she does not have adequate shoes for her child. What does this say about us as humans? When do we stop judging and just find the shoes and the food?

  2. Richard Roos
    Richard Roos says:

    That sounds like a racist Reflection. I know a lot of good, hard working, exhausted men and women who fulfill your description of “contortionists”. It’s not limited to Black women! Thus, why do you need to bring race into the Reflection? Just underscore the color-blind reality of men and women who live such lives as you describe “taking up our own cross each day” to the greater honor and glory of God?

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      I am truly sorry you feel that way, but what Ms. Lauren Morton says is true. For example, unfairly, many Black American children go to substandard schools yet instead of the infamous all people fighting for equal and high quality schools, too many say “those moms should join the PTO or help out more in the class”. As if the circumstances placing them in a challenged school district don’t correlate with other disadvantages that steal any spare time to do this volunteering. Volunteering that in a wealthy, read usually white, district would reap extras, not basic educational services.

    • Cathy Shipp
      Cathy Shipp says:

      Ms. Morton shared her reality and her reality is that of a black woman. A reality that neither you nor I have ever lived. Simply listen and learn.

    • Jean Sullivan
      Jean Sullivan says:

      Richard please consider that if a person with cancer wrote about her struggle you would call her out saying lots of people have cancer. Please listen with an open heart and open mind, that is what we’re being called to do everyday especially in Lent. Peace

  3. Anna
    Anna says:

    I want to be aware that the work that we need to do does not always fall on the one woman of color in my workplace. She is a a resource, but I need to carry my share of the load.

  4. Laura Jacobson
    Laura Jacobson says:

    Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your thoughts and experience in this reflection. Of course Black women aren’t the only ones who may be exhausted, but that’s not what the reflection says. I appreciate the reflection’s call to the broader community to understand how some members of our community are particularly impacted by injustice, and how others of us, whether intentionally or unintentionally, are adding to that burden rather than lifting up our sisters and brothers in Christ. I am grateful for the opportunity for reflection you have provided today.

  5. Karen Moscato
    Karen Moscato says:

    Such a powerful reflection today. Being authentic, is our individual paths to holiness. In being authentic we together can change the world without oppressing others.
    Pray for peace in Ukraine.

  6. Cathy Shipp
    Cathy Shipp says:

    As much as I would like to say “I understand” the truth is I never will. And while I contort myself as I am called to it is never going to be the same. My hair and clothing and mannerisms and credentials are not policed or called into question – except by me. What I think Ms. Morton’s lesson for me is to look at my self and see what God sees – and to do the same with everyone I encounter.

  7. Janet
    Janet says:

    Thank you, Lauren, for this beautiful reflection. One I might not have learned from or been moved by other than here in this space. Your voice, your perspective, your experience is necessary for all of us to hear. Thank you. Lenten blessings.

  8. Candice
    Candice says:

    Thank you Lauren for this beautiful inspirational message. The message was so on time for me today and left a smile in my heart.
    Thank you ❤️

  9. Vicky
    Vicky says:

    As a retired teacher and a sister to six sisters, I’ve been blessed to know many moms, aunts, stepmoms, grandmoms, foster moms from many walks of life. One takeaway is that the great majority of women are codependent contortionists. Black women in particular are blamed for difficulties they are thrown into by circumstances, prejudices, systemic racism. I pray for all women to constantly remember who they are in God’s eyes and to discern GOD’S WILL for their lives.

  10. Gail Donahue
    Gail Donahue says:

    Wonderful reflection! Thank you for giving me much to think about. Blessings and rest to you!

  11. Carol Phelps
    Carol Phelps says:

    Thank you Lauren for a wonderful reflection to start our Lenten journey and remind us, especially black women, on the importance of self care so we can continue to give our gifts to our families, church and community. Thank you for your courage to speak out loud what many of us experience daily. Lent is an opportunity for us all to broaden our perspectives and listen to each other so we can grow in understanding for all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Peace & Blessings

  12. Julia Steed Mawson
    Julia Steed Mawson says:

    Thank you to Lauren for this wonderful piece. Hearing your words and the expression of your experience was really moving for me. It showed to me some of the things that I can certainly share with you and relate to. I was feeling exhausted in the last few weeks trying to juggle several important issues that I felt were demanding my attention. So your image of the contortionist really spoke to me. Your focus on the balm of rest, prayer and community spoke to me as well. Thank you. But your writing also reminded me of the pressures that come to people of color that I will never really experience because I am white. I thought about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and the abusive treatment she often received during the hearings for her appointment to the Supreme Court … She is a contortionist indeed who has clearly mastered the grace and poise of uprightness.


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