Book Report: The Sacred Enneagram

What follows won’t be my normal book report. I don’t know what it will be, really, because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to adequately explain the profound effect that The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, by Christopher L. Heuertz has had on me. Anyway, I knew I picked up those Enneagram books for a reason.

If You Don’t Know What an Enneagram Is, Skip This Part

I liked it. A lot.

By the time I finished the book, I realized I had mis-typed myself, and thankfully someone who understands this mumbo-jumbo better than I do helped me figure out why that happened. I feel good about things now, even if it turns out I am a Type 1 perfectionist. Ugh. But accurate. In my younger years, I veered off to the adjacent Type 2, who want to help everybody and everything, and since menopause, I have been leaning to Type 9, so no wonder I thought that was my type originally.

I’m grateful to my two friends named Victoria who talked to me and helped me figure that all out. It’s so good to have a sounding board when you know there’s something not quite right, but you can’t figure out what it is.

Here’s the Fascinating Part

At least it’s fascinating and surprising to me. The author of the book is a young man who has spent much of his life doing charity work and comes from a strong Catholic background. I talked about this, and how he even knew Mother Teresa, when I reviewed The Enneagram of Belonging, his other recent book. So, yeah, he sprinkled examples from his own spiritual journey throughout this book, as well.

The thing is, the way he wrote about the practices of his teachers, their attitudes toward God and Jesus, and their goals for their spiritual development really resonated with me. As I read on and on about the contemplative Christian tradition, I felt more and more at peace with their goals and practices.

Toward the end of the book, when Heuertz talks about ways of prayer that will help you find your spiritual home, I was deeply moved. The aims of these Christian prayers and practices practically mirrored my own, other than the words they used to refer to the Divine. There is centering, stillness, attention to your breathing and body, and invoking love. Just like what I do.

What works for me may not work for you. Image by @linnflorin via Twenty20.

It fits in very well with the kind of Buddhist teachings I am most drawn to, as well, which are the more nature-focused ones that view us on Earth as all part of one entity. Just like the Christian God being in us all and accepting us all just the way we are.

I even see where Brene Brown’s spirituality comes from, though she may well approach it from a different tradition. It all boils down to acceptance of our whole selves (not, in my case, the perfect self I keep trying to get to with all this self help, education, and introspection).

So, for me (and I would think to many readers who plow through the whole book), the Enneagram types and interrelationships all turn out to be a tool to use to figure out how to get past all that stuff. Wow. Mind blown!

As a non-Christian, the most intriguing part (and the one I want to know a LOT more about) is how these contemplative Christians fit Jesus into all this, since you sorta do have to be a fan of Christ to be a Christian. When Heuertz goes into stories about Jesus, it reminds me of my years stuck in a basement with two former theologians (supposedly writing our dissertations), where it dawned on me slowly that they knew perfectly well there’s a lot of analogy, metaphor, and interpretation going on when it comes to the role of Jesus in their faith.

One Thing This Book Did for ME

Going through this book, and reading a little more about the groups of Jesuits, Sufi, and other spiritual guides Heuertz talks about, woke me up to an area where I have needed to do more work. I realized, deep in my heart, that not all people in organized religions fit into my stereotypes. My history with Christianity has led me to some pretty unfair over-generalizations, which I’ve been trying to rid myself of, slowly but surely.

There are lots of paths to inner peace and oneness with the Divine. Mine now makes sense. I wish this for all of you, whatever your path.

This book did it. I now feel entirely comfortable with the Christian path trod by people Heuertz’s spiritual guides (and Jim Rigby, and Joanna Fontaine Crawford, and other Christians I know who are working so hard for equality, love and understanding among people).

I knew intellectually that religious folk are like any other group: so diverse that I can find people I feel kinship with as well as people I just don’t understand at all. Now I feel it in my heart.

Personal growth for the win!

PS: Of course this is just MY spiritual journey. Yours is just fine for you as long as it is helping you be the best you possible.

Lent? Do I Do as UU?

I used to be a member of a Unitarian Universalist church. This is a religious denomination known for being extra-open to spiritual paths of all sorts. I still like a lot of the things UUs do, and one of them is the idea of “UU Lent,” which is a chance to do some intentional thought about a word per day leading up to the time when many faiths celebrate Easter. And you’re supposed to do a photo each day to show what represents that word to you, as described below (check out the honorifics on the designers; UUs are extra woke).

Here are all the words. They HAD to start with the hard one. Thanks to Robin Slaw for inspiring me.

I’ll post mine on Instagram/Facebook, but also here at the end of each blog post, so you can read ’em or skip ’em, as you see fit. Let’s get reflecting, shall we?

(Note for y’all who don’t know me well: I encourage you to practice your religion however you wish! I respect all of you who take the time out to think about something bigger than you. Yes, even those of you who think I’m on the short path to Hell. We’ll see.)

UU Lent for February 26: Prayer

This has never been my favorite concept, because I just never liked how so many people I was around did it. They tell some Daddy in the Sky to get to blessing them and the people they like right now. I have never been comfortable telling a deity what to do or asking for special favors. And when I eventually realized that my “deity” was good ole Ma Earth, I just felt like I should let Earth deal with things.

Suna's altar
I have this collection of objects in my living room that remind me of who I am and who my spiritual role models are. Both the St. Bridget/Goddess Brighid and the white invoking goddess a friend look like they are praying, so that’s my image for “prayer.” All the nature things, even the candle wax that looks like a triple moon, help me focus on taking care of all of our planet.

On the other hand, I’ve never had a problem putting out intentions into the world, but I guess it felt more like I was making an effort to make change happen, not passively waiting on some other entity to do it. And I do occasionally meditate on a topic, which is prayer-ish.

On the third hand, you know, the invisible one, I’ve seen many people perform “prayers” that I found quite moving and comfortable to me. I’m glad I got old enough to really understand that everyone’s ideas about God(dess) and their spiritual paths are their own and not my problem (well, until I get punished for not participating in the dominant paradigm, which can happen…).