The car was filled “to the gills” and an equally full pick-up truck will soon follow. Our son is moving back to Chicago. This morning, as he and his brother headed north down the road that leads out of our valley, I didn’t cry or linger in melancholy (as is my wont, being an Enneagram 4). Instead, I celebrated in my heart.

Today, going back means moving forward.

The illness that brought our eldest son home to the farm in November has been arrested. The miracles of prayer, modern medicine and our son’s will to live have done their work. He nearly died in November. Today, he’s happily embracing the future. And he’s moving back to the city he’s called home for over a decade.

But the thing about going back, or moving forward, or embracing a future is that the past goes with us.

“Everything that ever happens in a life goes on being a part of that life,

not just the thing that happens last.” ~ Frederick Buechner


The healing journey our son has been on over these past nine months will impact his future. Things he has learned and experienced have already influenced his expectations and his priorities. In Buechner’s words, “No man is such a prisoner of chronology but that his past and his future are not a part of his living present.”

My role in our son’s journey journey has also changed me. Because of what his illness required of me, my perspective, my intentions and my “present” have been profoundly altered. Resuming the life I was living before our son’s illness isn’t possible. Going back, for me, also means moving forward.

(graphic: unsplash)

I’ve taken five quick minutes today to write on the one-word prompt “BACK” and linked up with other writers at Five Minute Friday.

On the book table and in my car

I mentioned in the opening paragraph of the essay above that I’m a Type 4 in the Enneagram. I’ve been reading quite a bit about the Enneagram and listened to Annie F. Downs’ summer podcast series on the topic. In case you haven’t stumbled across the word (and I’m surprised at how many haven’t), here’s a definition from the website enneagramworldwide: “The Enneagram is a powerful tool for personal and collective transformation. Stemming from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol), the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others and the world.”

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery has been my guide as I’ve discovered my own type and asked members of my family to determine theirs. The book is co-authored by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Stabile was Downs’ first guest in her 10-part series and the discussion was fascinating.

In case you’re wondering, Type 4 is called The Romantic. “Healthy Fours have a considerable range of emotions … They are deeply creative, emotionally honest and connected, and attuned to beauty.” That’s the good stuff about my type. There’s so much more. If you’re curious, there’s plenty on the internet about the topic, but I’d recommend checking the source to be certain it’s reliable.

Two words of caution: (1) The Enneagram is just a tool for understanding ourselves and others. God created each of us with unique characteristics, skills and “bents” and no individual is good, bad or otherwise because they have identified with a certain “type”. (2) Don’t label one another. You may have a notion that someone falls into one of nine types, but let them discover that for themselves. For the Enneagram to have value, the identity must come from their hearts and minds. Not yours.

(On a side note, did you see how I incorporated the one word BACK into this piece?)

‘Summer of Culture’ draws to a close

We’re turning the corner toward fall and I’m shifting my focus away from friendship, feasts, fiction and film but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop meeting up with friends, trying new foods and enjoying good books and films. From time to time, I’ll recommend my favorite finds in all the categories above in the monthly Slice of Life Notes. Join us and receive regular emails (not too often, I promise) by subscribing to this blog.

One last recommendation: As you add to your reading stack for fall, visit your local book store. The newest one within driving distance for me is Fables Books, which opened in Goshen, Indiana earlier this summer. The sweet thing is, the new store filled space left by a book store chain that closed in the spring, so it already holds all the smells and ambiance of the previous bookshop. Perfect!