Making It Up To Me

May is the month I make the switch from evening runs to early morning runs. Mercyburg bakes, steams, and fries all my tender tissues from June to October. Running in the morning is my primary method of management. Last week I made my only self-portraits attempts immediately after my morning runs, while my light-up armbands were still glowing. It’s dark when I start. Sun is almost up when I finish. I wasn’t particularly pleased with the results but it occurred to me as I worked with them that these were a riff on my classic Instagram posts which show me practicing sacred adornment. These were closer to functional adornment.

Tuesday’s arm stack:

Photo May 01, 6 12 39 AM
Yep, those are skulls and crossed bones.

Thursday’s arm stack.

Photo May 03, 6 16 42 AM
Hydrating with coffee.

I ran again on Sunday but it was well after sun-up, so no special lighting was required.

So what is sacred adornment? It started out as a rebuttal practice; adorning the body to honor it and show gratitude for a body formerly subject to various forms of abuse.

Abusive language directed toward the body or about the body; hating it, being angry with it, punishing it. This includes the unspoken but powerful shame, revulsion, and rejection of different parts of the body. The damage is the same whether I say it out loud or not.

Abusive clothing and shoes that restrict, torture or correct. That bind or grind. That lash and smash. That smother and cover. That pinch and cinch. That bring ache and pain. That cripple movement of blood, breath, and flow.

Abuse by starvation or restriction of nourishment; punished with chemicals or punitive exercise. Punished by the restriction of pleasure, rest, and ease.

Abuse by withholding safety or respect. Abuse by neglect. Abuse by suppression.

The opposite end of the spectrum feels like worship of the body and devotion to its needs. Sacred adornment is the practice of reinstating the body’s glory. To elevate and venerate the body.  Pamper the body. Apply affection. Adore it. Adorn it.

So the sapphire bracelet at the bottom of the wrist stays on more or less all the time. A baseline upon which more adornments are applied. When my practice is particularly robust the adornments become robust as well, and I am sometimes compelled to document them as a celebration. This time it was more tongue-in-cheek. The stack of practical additions up the arm amused me for their contrast. Functional adornment; though GPS and safety lights do indeed support the rest of my indulgences.

— Mercy

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