“God was in this place and I did not know it,” confesses the awestruck Jacob in the wake of his dream of a ladder teeming with angels. What had been ordinary now becomes charged with God’s grandeur. A simple stopping place on the road to rest his weary bones becomes for Jacob, the gateway to heaven. Totally absorbed by his own anxieties, Jacob unexpectedly experiences eternity in the midst of time. Though Luz was familiar ground, Jacob now sees it for the first time as a “thin place,” to use the language of the Celts, where heaven and earth merge and every moment incarnates holiness. So he renames it Bethel, house of God. This is the mystic vision, where we recognize God’s presence in the world around us. Sometimes it comes because of our intentional spiritual practices. Other times, it comes when we least expect it and do not feel as though we deserve it. It comes to the righteous and unrighteous alike and to the certain and the doubting as well. When it happens, when heaven and earth become one, everything changes. God comes alive in the Holy Here and Holy Now to Jacob, a shady entrepreneur (Gen. 28:10-19); to Saul, later Paul, a religious zealot hell-bent on eliminating the early Christian movement (Acts 9:1-9); to Esther the beauty queen, preening herself for the King’s visitation and doing her best to deny her ethnic heritage (Esth. 4:4-17); to Martha amid the pots and pans and preparation for a dinner party (Luke 10:38-42); and to us as we try to balance personal economics, parenting and grandparenting, and political involvement and social concern.
1/19/2018 3:02:22 PM