Arriving in Canaan, Abraham built an altar to worship God and pitched a tent (Genesis 12:8). The altar and the tent are both characteristic of a spiritual journey. The altar represents our commitment to giving God the supreme place in our lives. The altar is the place where we meet God, the place where we call upon God, the place where we respond to the call of God. The tent reminds us that life is transitory and that we are on a journey. Whenever we replace God on the altar of our lives, we create idols or addictions. Whenever we replace the tent we forget that life is transitory and create a mausoleum, a kind of death in the midst of life. It may be a beautiful home or a great business but without the context of the altar and the recognition of the tent, it is death in the midst of life. Knowing God . . . involves respecting God on the altar of our lives and remembering that we live in a tent.
-David F. Allen, M.D. in Contemplation: Intimacy in a Distant World