Before Gardens and After Gardens

Before Gardens and After Gardens

Don’t go outside your house to see the flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
Inside the body and out of it,
Before gardens and after gardens.
— Kabir

For a long time I used to find myself bringing up my home state, Vermont, A LOT in casual conversation. For goodness sake, it’s mentioned in my now three-year-old bio on the UUCC website! 

It felt somewhat over the top and left field bringing it up so often, but I felt an urge to let people know about my experiences there so that they could better understand me. I wanted people to know how foundational my experiences were there, to know how meaningful the stillness of snowfall was to me growing up, to know that it felt magical as a child to build fairy houses in fields, to know that I was overwhelmed by wildflowers and seeing the stars and moon without light pollution at night. To know that I loved (and continue to love) nature and her quiet lessons and eternal beauty, and that I have Vermont to thank for instilling this lifelong love of nature.

I am most certainly nostalgic about the past and Vermont, and have imbued that time in my life with a heavy layer of meaning that isn’t true to how I actually experienced it while I was living there. The truth is that I was often so bored in Vermont and was more than ready to leave when I did at age 18. I was ready for a wider and more eclectic world. 

In the last couple of years — and particularly this year — I find myself bringing up the Enneagram in conversation as much as I used to bring up Vermont. For those who may not be familiar, it’s a typology system that describes human personality as a number of interconnected personality types, and to me has proven to be a way more insightful and useful relational tool than Myers-Briggs — or my history growing up in Vermont.

Although I love to get into the many further nuances, I’ll spare us all in this setting and simply say that there are nine types total and that I’m an Enneagram 4 — The Individualist. Some personality traits of a 4 that particularly resonate with me include: self-aware, sensitive, quirky, self-conscious, moody, introspective, empathic, passionate about self-expression, and strong sense of identity.

The Enneagram has been a useful tool for exploring and understanding my inner world (gosh I love the inner world), and has allowed me to acknowledge and process my type’s core drive (to express myself authentically) and fear (not having an identity or personal significance). It has also allowed me to be mindful of and present to what traits I take on when I’m in stress or in growth. Beyond how it assists just me, learning about all nine types has helped me better understand and relate to those around me and develop a sense of interconnection. To see how we all fundamentally function differently, and how each type has its own beautiful way of being in the world. To see how we all need each other.

If you’re curious, I invite you to learn more and take the Enneagram test here (you can learn which type you are and then Google it to learn more without paying for the full report they’ll try to get you to buy at the end). If you know which type you are already, I’d love to hear about it in the comments so I can learn more about you.

In exploration and celebration of the beauty of our diversity,


  1. Carol Zika

    Would you consider giving an adult RE workshop? I took one on the Myers Briggs many years ago at UUCC.

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      Good morning, Carol! I’m hoping to do a discussion series in the fall. A workshop is a nice idea, too! I will think on how that might work.

  2. Chris Crandell

    Ha! I am also a Type 4! Aren’t we special? 😉
    AND I have been thinking about buying property in Vermont as a hedge (mostly for my family) against climate change. Let’s talk!

    • Cyndy

      Oh! Please consider it! I’m loving my new home here and would love to be able connect with old friends 🙂

      Sara, I have wondered how bored young people might be here. As someone who arrived later in life, I find the seasonal signs of nature’s cycles very exciting (at least this first year) And the slower pace is a welcome change.

      • Sara Davidson (Author)

        Cyndy where in Vermont are you!? Am I being too nosey? haha

        I’m originally from a small town called Groton, and moved to St. Johnsbury half-way through high school. Both are in what they call the Northeast Kingdom.

        Enjoy the lovely spring weather and lovely upcoming summer weather as well!

  3. Heather Dorst

    There is a wonderful book on the enneagram that I highly recommend. The Buddhist Enneagram; Nine Paths to Warriorship by Susan Piver. It brings more insight to the path of growth than I have seen elsewhere, and she is quite humorous too! ( and the author is also a 4!)

  4. Celonia A Walden

    Hi Sara! I took the Enneagram test online like you suggested and I got Type 6: The Loyalist! I like how that sounds! Funny thing… I’m a Harry Potter fan and my House is Hufflepuff and we are known for our loyalty! 💛 🖤 Go Badgers! LOL 😂

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      6 — lovely! Thank you for taking it and sharing… I took that Harry Potter test too at some point, and am also a Hufflepuff softy haha

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      Lord (or whoever haha) knows we need Type 1s! I’m so glad you took the test and shared with us! 🙂

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