Three Ways to Engage “Beat” Spirituality Part One
If you’re a fan of American literature you might remember the “Beat Generation” people like Jack Kerouac, who were thus titled for their seeking of “the beatific vision,” in everyday life. I’m not saying they were right, or praising their loose morality, but I am saying that there’s something to the spirituality they represent which was flawed, but can find completion in the Church and her teachings. The term “beat generation” applied to a loose collective of writers with more or less one goal in mind, the spirituality of the present moment. While the beat generation sought this in roadtrips and journeys on the outside, I think that we can see that there is something to be said about interior journeys.
I don’t know about you, but I know my life is always on the move. I’ve found that keeping a strong interior life can be complicated in the midst of all this commotion, especially as I have changed cities, left home again and adventure out on my own path.
I think that my personal spiritual journey is less like building a castle, and more like taking a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage has one goal in mind, a destination. Our goal should be what the ancient saints called the “Beatific Vision.” The Beatific vision, is a soul’s absolute visual perception of God. I think that building a strong interior life is about holding this vision in everyday life. It’s less like building a fortress and more like sojourning along the way. The castle is a moving castle, the interior is a growing and wayfaring interior life towards Christ.
These three things have helped me (We’ll do a three part Series)
1) Snapshots of Spiritual Realities
- Pray Station Portable:
I’m not sure, but it seems to me that the kids I pastored assumed that prayer had to be something you sat down to do in a very reverent and quiet way at all times, and that if you were not in church (or locked away somewhere, for the older ones) you could not really be praying.What I have learned in working all this time is that I can and do indeed have time to pray in my everyday. I mean, lucky for me, I have a job where I work outside, and can listen to my phone’s podcast app on a regular basis. But in this time I have developed a growing spiritual awareness to the everyday. I usually listen to each of the offices for the Liturgy of the Hours a few times so that I can catch the general gist of it and pray along. At other times I might be running an errand and have an earphone in my ear instead of the radio listening and praying along. Now, I’m not super-spiritual holier-than-thou, I still listen to music, but it helps to take time to pray or at the very least listen to the office of readings.
The other day, on Wednesday to be exact, I was headed to lunch with a friend and the office of the readings was Ezekiel 37, the story about the dry bones. I was overwhelmed with everything. I happened to be driving by a Catholic Church, and I just had the overwhelming spiritual reassurance that God was working in my behalf, saw my sufferings and was sharing in them with me.
I felt those words echo in the depths of my soul, and I knew that the Lord was speaking to me. I don’t even know how to put it into words, but this little “pocket of prayer” gave me overwhelming spirituality, and reassurance in the midst of trial. This experience sanctified that ordinary moment into something extraordinary. Spiritual reality knocked down the door to my everyday reality and brought me back to God’s existence and work in my everyday.
The interior life I’m talking about is a wayfaring to “there and back again.” I am encouraging you to go out, as I have gone out, and gotten outside my shell and conversed with others. I am encouraging you to build a moving castle. I mean, some people don’t find it easily tenable to build a castle in one sitting, to which I say, travel, picking up things along the way, but instead of letting them fall out, bring back these precious stones, and build a castle from your journeys.