The Gate of Heaven
Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place– and I did not know it! How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.” – Genesis 28:16
John Phillip Newell shares a rabbi’s insight on Moses and the burning bush. “The important aspect of this story,” the rabbi said, “is not that the bush is burning, but that Moses noticed. For every bush is burning. Every bush is aflame with the Living Presence.”
A similar moment happened following Jacob’s dream. He awoke and discovered that a mere rock is the throne of God and the gate of heaven. “Surely the Lord is in the place– and I did not know it!” exclaims an awestruck Jacob. Like Moses, Jacob notices the sacred in the everyday.
The timing of Moses and Jacob’s mystical moments should not be overlooked. They’re both on the lam, alone and isolated after causing harm back home. That’s when God overwhelms them with holy vision and purpose. And that’s good news in our time of isolation when we have caused immense harm to our earthly home and to the human family.
Today, may we wake up to the truth that “the Lord is in this place,” in every rock and lump of dirt. May we know, as Julian of Norwich did, that we are not made by God, we are made of God. May we see all of creation aflame with divine presence. And may we claim it as the most important moral and spiritual discovery possible.
Lord, today let me wake up in every moment and rejoice: “Surely You are in this place, and in this person, and I did not know it!”
Matt Laney is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available in April, 2018.