The Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid... Genesis 28:16, 17
Something about this story of Jacob's dream always makes me chuckle. At Jacob, first of all: "Surely the Lord is in this place"! The Lord is in every place, fully, equally, and at all times (Ps. 139)! There is no place where the Lord is not, in all His full omniscience and power. I just want to say to Jacob as he is rubbing the sleep from his eyes, "Duh!" But then I read on: "and I did not know it." That's when I chuckle at myself. Because I know the Lord is in every place, all the time, in all His omniscience and power, but I don't always act like I know it. I know it as a theological proposition, but not as a practical reality bearing down on, defining, and sustaining my very existence at all times. Who is the bigger dolt? Jacob for not knowing? Or me, for knowing, but not acting on what I know?
I chuckle because I think the Lord chuckles at Jacob and me as well. He is always pressing on us with His glory, revealing glimpses of Himself -- oozing and flashing, to recall Hopkins's brilliantmetaphors -- and inviting us to consider and delight in Him and, more, to live in His presence -- coram deo -- with greater conscientiousness and conviction. The Lord parades His glory before me every day, as He did before Moses, concealed in that rock, and He invites me to wonder, worship, and walk before Him accordingly.
Celtic Christians had a particular penchant for meeting the Lord in the things He has made -- lakes, hills, caves, storms, the creatures of the woods. Their poems are filled with wonder and gratitude because of what they encountered of Him in those "thin places" in the creation where, as they saw it, the veil that separates the spiritual world from the temporal is stretched so thin as to allow interpenetration between the two more easily. Their practice of retreating to such thin places for prayer and meditation equipped them to live coram deo more consistently, and with more wonder and power, in the everyday circumstances of their lives. For many of them, every place became a thin place, and they knew the presence of the Lord with greater intensity and glory at all times and in every situation.
"Surely the Lord is in this place." Do we know it? Will we live in His constant presence accordingly?