You slowly realize the "shortcuts" to the exits don't exist.
After two hours you slowly realize you will spend the rest of your life in Ikea.
— The 27 Stages of Being Trapped in Ikea, Patrick Smith, BuzzFeed
Let the one who seeks not stop seeking until he finds; and when he finds, he will be troubled; when he is troubled, he shall be astonished.
—The Gospel of Thomas (one of the Gnostic Gospels)
Those big stores with the long shelves filled with flat-packed boxes and alluring displays of furniture prompt two opposing feelings in me: my life will now be neatly put together AND I’ll never be able to figure this all out. I can envision new space, new order. Then I picture allen wrenches and particle board and missing pegs and wordless instructions. And I get afraid.
I remember a teacher in a workshop telling us that “what’s true in the physical world is true in the metaphysical world.” So, from the ridiculous—me, contemplating the assemblage of DIY furniture—to the sublime—the mysteries of God.
There’s a story in Genesis in which Abraham takes his son Isaac up a mountain to sacrifice him, only to be stayed by God’s voice. The mountain is called Adonai Jireh. I heard a rabbi say that the name of this mountain could be translated either as “the place where God is seen” or “the place where God is to be feared.” The same word, jireh, contains vision and fear. Two sides of the same coin.
We swing between these extremes often in life, in ways little and big. We see the big picture; we feel completely lost. We envision it all coming together; we have no idea what we’re doing. We move boldly forward; we’re afraid to take a step.
The mystery that intrigues me is how all of this can live in the same place at once. Not vision or fear. Not troubled or astonished. But all of it, together, contained in one word, or one life. Not laid out according to instructions or dogma, but to be figured out, in ruptures and revelations.
The name Isaac is translated as “laughter.” I like imagining that mystery: up on the mountain, between vision and fear, there’s laughter.
Welcome to The God Project.
-David Bradley, Director