Many years ago, I participated in an Enneagram Basics weekend in Dayton, Ohio. I was intrigued by the Enneagram System and, for me, this experience of self-discovery was the beginning of a grace-filled journey.
In the following months, I participated in three other weekends entitled Enneagram and Spirituality. Ever since, I have greatly enjoyed reading and studying the system and its implications in human life, in relationships, and especially in spirituality.
At our Retreat Center in Attleboro, I have conducted workshops myself in the hope of helping others derive as much benefit from the Enneagram and in the hope of sharing my own discovery and growth with others. The Enneagram has proven to be a true gift from God to me.
An Enneagram View of LifeThe Enneagram teaches that much of what we are is due to our very early childhood education and, in large part, to our own early conscious and unconscious choices of behavior with which we were secure and by which we protected ourselves from the outer "threatening" world. This system helped me discover very concrete things about myself:
- The positive points of my personality;
- My qualities and strengths:
- My negative points;
- My weaknesses and compulsions.
Who are We Called to Be?I realized that "I was who I was", and that "others were who they were". But the Enneagram also helped me to see clearly who and what I could become. I realized that I needed to be more aware of my compulsions in order to redirect my physical, psychic and spiritual energies into the development of the positive me, or — as it is called — “my good space" or integration.
Then there came for me the concrete realization of the meaning of conversion. But conversion from what to what? I could only desire to convert humanly and spiritually if there was something inferior that I should turn away from and something better that I should turn to. If I was always "right" and "OK" as I was, why change? Why convert?
Accepting Myself and Others as We AreI had wished for years that others would accept me as I was! I finally realized that I too had to accept others as they were — not as I wanted them to be. The Enneagram gave me a freeing acceptance of myself and a much greater acceptance and tolerance of others – a crucial first step in conversion!
Finally, I could accept myself as I was and allow others to be who they were, all the while striving gradually to become the person I was called to be. But probably more importantly, I was able to accept myself as God accepted me, forgave me, and loved me — that is, unconditionally.
All this to say that the Enneagram helped me further understand that conversion is a process, a very slow and gradual process.
Reconciliation Begins at HomeThe Enneagram has helped me to be reconciled with my imperfect self, with imperfect others and with a God who alone is perfect – not that this understanding has been attained perfectly by any means! The awareness which I now possess in this regard has helped me finally to understand that reconciliation, like charity, begins at home, in me.
As I have continued to study the Enneagram and as I continued to share my insights through workshops, I know that I continue to perform a truly important ministry of reconciliation. For so long – for far too long – I have tried to help others to be reconciled with themselves, with one another and with God, failing all the while to realize how conversion and reconciliation are life-long processes, affecting all aspects of my being. Only then could my own experience truly influence my ministry with and for others.
The Gift of Self-Discovery in EnneagramThe Enneagram system of self-discovery has truly helped me in this respect. In addition, it has helped me to deepen my prayer life by helping me to understand why I prayed the way I did; why I preferred one prayer-style over all others; and why God was who he was for me. The Enneagram has helped me to minister much more effectively and to intercede much more powerfully.
I am deeply convinced that I am a far better reconciler as a result of the discovery of and the work with the Enneagram. I pray that more people would experience the deep inner joy, the freedom and the grace that I have known, and the peace and serenity that have followed. They have made me a much happier person and a more effective Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette.
(Originally published in the La Salette Publication, To Gather Together)