I know, I know, I may have to turn in my Man Card for saying this, but I enjoyed shopping with Cyndi at Ikea. There. Done.
In fact, we spent about three hours in Richardson, Texas, trolling the aisles at Ikea. Fortunately they have arrows painted on the floor so you won’t get lost, and also to ensure shoppers get a chance to see everything they sell. We saw it all at least once, but my favorite parts of the store were the examples of living in small spaces. Very small, as in 500 square feet.
While they were extremely small and compact, at least for this westerner, it was amazing how Ikea fit everything you needed into the tiny spaces without feeling overly cramped. You could understand how something that small might really work. Of course, you couldn’t own more than 18” of clothes or more than two pairs of shoes.
I told Cyndi, “I can imagine living like this if I hadn’t gotten married.” Not that being married demands so much more space, but my life would be very small without her influence. I doubt I would live a large life, be pulled into the larger story, or even long to be around so many people, if I didn’t have 33 years of Cyndi in my life.
I know we could live simpler and more efficiently if we had to, but I’m glad we don’t have to make that choice. I am happy that we don’t live such tiny lives.
However, living space isn’t my real concern. Mother Theresa had little if any personal space and she lived a huge life. Like her, I want Cyndi and I to leave a large footprint in the world, a huge wake, a lasting impact. Even at my most introverted I still want moments when I’m surrounded by a houseful of friends. Leave No Trace is a fine goal for backpacking, but I don’t want that to be said about our lives.
As Cyndi and I walked through Ikea, I reminded myself that we intentionally designed our own house with a mind to fill it up with people. Even more, so we could bring people along with us. We want everyone, not just those inside our house, but people living alongside us, joining us on this journey to know and love God better. Not as a band of disciples or followers, but as fellow travelers, as brothers on the trail.
Maybe I was extra-conscious of our house and our lives because of Ikea’s inspiring vision – “to create a better everyday life for the many people” – or maybe it was because I’ve been working on my next book, which will be about home and space.
It wasn’t until Cyndi and I started designing the floor plan of the house where we now live that I came to appreciate the sacredness of space. I wrote:
I was too young to understand all of that before. I had thought of space as mostly utilitarian; I never imagined it was connected to our hearts.
I expected to develop a relationship with these rooms. I expected them to become knowledgeable witnesses to our dreams. I expected the shape of this house to shape my future life and behavior, even guard my identity and help me remember who I am. Maybe I’d write a book sitting in this very room I was standing in. Maybe we’d sit with close friends in that other room, watching a great movie and talking about our lives. Maybe Cyndi would stand in the kitchen, cooking S’mores with grandchildren and creating lifelong memories. Maybe I’d chase Cyndi into that room, and that one, and all the rooms. Maybe someone in our family would live awhile in some of these rooms, finding in them a safe haven in a world of uncertainty.
It wasn’t that space itself had magical spiritual qualities. I know that some consider certain geographic locations to be holy places, but I don’t believe the holiness is in the rocks and trees and air. I believe the holiness comes from people doing holy things in those places, and from pilgrims having expectant hearts when they visit. Places are sacred because of the time we invest in them. They become sacred because our hearts are there. Cyndi and I were putting as much of our hearts into this space as we knew how, making it as sacred as we could.
Since moving in about three-and-a-half years ago, we’ve had 60+ people in our house on several occasions, eating soup, or eating hamburgers, or eating fresh corn on the cob (seems to be a theme). Having so many people interacting and laughing makes me happy; the fact that they mostly entertain themselves and I don’t have to work the crowd, even happier. And even better than that – we don’t have to squeeze into 500 square feet of space.
Oh, and in case you were worried about that Man Card thing, don’t bother. It’s too late. I pulled it out and laid it face-down on the table while watching the Olympic gymnasts perform on the rings. Seeing them made me feel like a little boy more than anything Ikea could muster.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson or on Facebook … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org