In Genesis 28 we find the story of Jacob's journey to Haran. After deviously seizing his brother's blessing, his family relationships are in shambles and he leaves home to find a wife and let things cool down a bit. It seems plausible that this may have been something of a low point in his life: he may even have felt guilt over what he had done; we don't know.
He stops for the night. I can imagine him a bit discouraged: tired, alone, and internally empty. He's just received one of the grandest blessings in the entire Bible, but his spirit and senses register only bleakness, uncertainty, and the darkness of the night. He has no possessions, no companion, and no identity: just hope and two strong hands.
The difficulty in using a stone for a pillow is that stones, generally, are convex. So is your head. When you place one convex object atop another, they will touch at only one point. This can be rather uncomfortable. I've tried it.
Somehow he got it to work and fell into a fitful sleep. He dreamed.
Heaven was alive. There was light, and color; the landscape was both anchored and exalted in a glorious, ethereal solidity. And the earth was no more a cold, distant, God-forsaken object. The earth was connected - intimately connected. The golden feet of the ladder dislodged pebbles and made gentle impressions in the soft soil. The earth was sharing - basking - in heavenly reality, as angels passed seamlessly through both dimensions, climbing on the only ladder in the Bible.
The Lord spoke. To Jacob! Jacob sat bolt upright and did what you do when God speaks: listen.
God, not being given to droning dissertations, finished. The darkness returned; the ladder receded into heaven like a zipper. The crickets, tenuously at first, then more confidently, resumed their rhythm.
Jacob blinked and slapped himself. The dawn was barely visible over the eastern hills. He pulled his cloak around him in the early morning chill, buried his head in his hands, and cried.
It was not the vision. It was not even the words that the Lord had spoken.
It was the revelation that God was real.