Order > disorder > reorder = three phases of life… not my idea, Richard Rohr's meditations / insights, arrive in my inbox every morning. A Christian contemplative, writing in America. He is a thinker who is using his faith and the structure and language of Christian thought to investigate. With time I have found it easier to accept his choice of words, and allowed myself to hear what he is saying. Finding a way, a path, maybe a reordering of my assumptions.
Order > disorder > reorder is his idea. The infant needs order to survive, growing up creates disorder, and now reordering is the opportunity to see the chaos for what it is, and to see its opposite. With time and awareness most things cease to be exclusive, and become inclusive. Everything can be here. Reordering demands attention, thought, contemplation even. What little I know of contemplation itis not harder thinking, it may even be thinking less and listening more. Time is important too. Whatever way it works, it is at core an intimacy with self.
Exploring reorder I have taken the decision to go into workplaces and photograph my way to an understandingof what's there. On the principle of not judging but accepting, and finding my own place within it, or not.
Taking pictures in Price's Bakery, through a cold winter night, allowed me an opportunity to shoot my way into an intimacy with a particular work place. Jeff, Jim and Adrian work almost ceaselessly to produce the loaves for the next day. Each night is hard, each night they repeat the journey of the night before. Like Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill. It is skilful & focussed work.
I had no idea what I would see when I started that night. By six the following morning I could no longer focus, or find another image - and they still had 4 hours to work.
I have thought a lot about this space and the pictures I took in it. It took a couple of days to get the huge number of images (458 shots) down to the thirty odd pictures I like. The edit became a contemplation, not thinking thinking. In the edit I learnt more about what I had been doing than I was aware of at the time. And how my relationship with the three men changed through the night. I was privileged that they let me into their world so readily, even offering me a job at the end of it… which I still may take them up on. Conversation was sparse (maybe initially because I was there) because there was a lot to do, and it had to be finished on time. No need to discuss very much, they have done this all before. There are no seats, no one sits, even for snack breaks. But it was not a mindless production line. The relationship is with the living dough, handled and cajoled into shapes and formers, kneaded and pulled by hand, raising agents and the heat of the ovens, create a transformative and organic space. And the work seems shared evenly between them, each moving to help complete tasks. Although the equipment is modern, t's an ancient space. I could see how by the end of a traditional solid fuel firing the community would then arrive to use the still hot ovens to cook their food, which still happens in many places in the world. In Syria the bakeries are easy targets for government bombs. This place and the work is at the heart of many communities. A hot heart, beating through a cold night. Craft and skill making delicious food, by hand, they have not been replaced by computers.
When I decided to leave, Jeff rushed out and came back with a piping hot fruit loaf. But the whole night had been a gift they had given me: access to their work place and work. The hot loaf steamed in the cold air walking home. Only with hindsight, do I see how close they let me get. I will go back for more pictures, and for more bread. My work drew me into that space, and the camera gave me access. All four of us were doing something we had, in our own ways, done hundreds or thousands of times before.
I entered a stranger and left a friend. I brought a need into a space that did not need me, and we found a way to accommodate both the making of the bread and the taking of the pictures.
Bread being life, life being repetitive, reordering the chaos is an endless task. Things constantly rise up and fall apart, and fall into conflict. In small, intimate ways developing the skill of seeing, and ability to allow form to arise out of formlessness, the making of bread or a picture sequence is similar. What follows is understanding of connection and intimacy despite difference. And all is consumed and repeated, falling again into chaos, offering the opportunity to gettit.