John Stilgore's book, Outside Lies Magic, is really a recordation of his attempt to really see a place, to know it, to name it, if you will. In a chapter entitled "Stops," he bicycles around the various motels, gas stations, and fast food restaurants found around interstate highway cloverleaf intersections, noting the uniformity of landscaping, the nighttime social life, the workers, the environment beyond the parking lots and buildings. He wonders about the motivations behind design and siting decisions, about the lives of those who pass through, about the lives of those who frequent the motel bars and restaurants on Friday and Saturday evenings. While most travelers who pass through barely give it a thought --- needing only a shower, some dinner, and a bed to sleep in --- Stilgore slows down and looks carefully, seeing things travelers would not see.
Know it or not, John Stilgore is imaging God. It is in God's character to know His Creation. After all, He made it, and yet He did not make it and then leave. We know that in Christ "all things hold together," and that He will "reconcile to himself all things" (Col. 1:17, 19). And if he will in fact reconcile and make right all things, then both we and the natural and built environment will be re-created by the One who truly knows us.
In Isaiah 43, God tells His people that they are "precious," "called," honored", and "loved." In Exodus 33 He tells Moses that "I know you by name." Knowing that God made all things and will reconcile all things, it's no stretch to also hear Him say of His Creation that it is "loved," honored," and even "precious." After all, we're told that Christ came because of God the Father's love of the world (kosmos) (Jn. 3:16). That's the universe. That's everything. That's the world God knows.
So, knowing a place is really a divine activity. It's a way of cherishing the world God made as a way of glorifying the One who made it. Like Him, we can know its bent nature, the multitude of ways it is broken and imperfect, but in knowing it we might better seek its restoration to the way God intended it. Slowing down and looking is a start, as we ask God to help us better know Him and His world.