Unity Village Trail

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings


            Lee’s Summit, Missouri                 Travel requires an open mind to discovery.  We traveled to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the 101,000 person, sixth-largest city in the state, that we and the rest of the world will always understand as really a suburb of Kansas City, nestled in their metropolitan area.  Of all my aunts and uncles on both sides of my family, my uncle Tom, my mother’s youngest brother is the last of the lot.  Having broken his hip last year at close to 95 years old, I can’t exactly say that he is the last one standing, but having visited him two years ago right before the pandemic took over the world, it was time to see him where he was now in assisted living.

My dad and my mother’s oldest brother, Barton Wade, were in the oil business one way or another.  Thomas Watson Ratliff was in manufacturing, more specifically the industrial bread and bread products business, mainly in and around Kansas City on both sides of the state line, whether Emporia, Kansas, or downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  In a video on his retirement, he had a line of goodbye that I still love to quote that his work and people had given him “a slice of heaven.”  He was alert and engaged as he had been several years ago, just less mobile with weaker sight and hearing.  We watched a bit of the Masters tournament together as we visited.  He and my aunt had been regular golfers in their day.  It was good to see him and then to visit over barbeque with my cousins, his children and grandchildren later that evening.

Interestingly, making reservations at the last minute, we weren’t staying where other cousins had lighted but at a place called the Unity Hotel and Conference Center which was big enough that it had its own zip code and designation not as Lee’s Summit, but Unity Village.  We worried that we were going to end up in a Monnie operation, but this was something different.  The location was beautiful on more than 1200 acres founded by a couple in 1889 named Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.  One thing led to another and it turned out this was the world headquarters of their “global, inclusive, spiritual community.”  They describe its premise as “beginning in Christianity”, but brining “…together ancient wisdom from many faith traditions” with no “dogma in Unity, and we honor all spiritual paths.”  Really?  Who does that?

I can’t say if that’s the square deal or not, but I can say that walking at dawn on their 2.5-mile nature trail was almost a spiritual experience for me.  I flushed two whitetail deer as I started walking through the trees along a small stream.  The dawn broke over a pasture, breaking the woods as I climbed up hill along the way.  Spring is still a rumor here, but one about to break out in truth.  The walk was a gift from Unity, it seemed to me, no matter what else they offered.  When we had first arrived there seemed to be groups of wedding and prom folks having their pictures made in the various settings around the landscape, as well.  Clearly, I wasn’t the only one to stumble on a surprise here, but like I said, keep an open mind to adventure, wherever we may find it.