The Inner Tower

19 May

The other day I took this picture outside the Unity Village Tower. The tower was completed in 1929 and after many Missouri summers and winters it needs a good deal of repair. It hosts a 100,000 gallon water tank that is the primary water source for the entire Village and originally had offices and the visitor’s center. Now for a couple years it has been surrounded by a fence because of the potential of masonry falling from the top. It is a Kansas City landmark and can be seen from all over. It is strong in the memories and hearts of many.

Last year there was a lot of excitement and energy put into the renovation of the central courtyard and activation of the new fountains. When I hear people talk about the fountains and how beautiful they are they often say in the next breath, I can’t wait for the tower to be fixed. I am on-board with that, the last (and as far as I can remember) only time I was in the tower was only in the main floor where my YOU (Youth of Unity) family group was assigned to meet. I have had brushes with almost getting to go up and had it not quite happen. So, to say the least, I am right there with everyone who is highly anticipating the reopening of the observation deck. I was infinitely grateful to learn that there was a fabulous couple who are donating a significant chunk of the money to make the renovation happen.

Like I have a tendency to do, I started asking questions of the folks who actually know what’s going on. What they told me was that the work had already begun, but that we wouldn’t see much of it until it was almost complete.

Which is why I took this picture in the first place. The tower is mostly behind the tree, and there is in the middle of the ground a dirt pile. It is the only obvious sign that anything is going on.

Then I got to thinking, that’s kinda like life. There is a deterioration of an old belief, the weather of experiences is saying ‘hey! this is not viable anymore’ so you put a fence around it. Then you think, ok, I need to come up with a plan… tear it down? make condos? renovate? shore up the structure with newer technology (aka ideas)?

Then the committee gets involved. Maybe it’s naysayers in the form of friends or family who want you to be a certain way, maybe it’s the naysayers in your mind who haven’t figured out to believe yet. You can stay there for a while, but the problem is:

The Tower is still crumbling!

You decide on a direction.  But it doesn’t happen overnight, and the results are not immediately obvious. The inner work is happening bit by bit over days and weeks and years. Walls are being shored up and new elevator equipment installed. Each day some old mortar is removed and replaced by new. You think you’re almost there and then oh no! another remnant from the past.

And then finally, after you have hauled in buckets of new ideas to replace the buckets of stuff-that’s-not-working you hauled out, you unveil. In what looks like a blink of the eye to the casual observer you have shifted your whole way of being. Your close friends, the ones who have been witnessing you dump out the ickyness buckets and helping fill them with confidence when you’re short, they know. They are as happy for the new unfenced you as I will be the day the tower is reopened.

But then, what will be next? Before the fountains were even finished we were looking to the next project. Stop, take a moment to bask in the beauty of what you have done, and then, as the Zen proverb says,

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

The work is a continual process, just as physical structures must be cared for, maintained, and sometimes completely overhauled, so too is our inner process. Sometimes we can’t see it, but it’s happening.

I hope that you keep hauling those buckets so that the tower within you can always take you to whatever height you desire.




2 Responses to “The Inner Tower”

  1. bneal817 May 19, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    I wish a fabulously wealthy someone would show up eager to fund the renovation of my inner tower…

    • preacherchick May 19, 2011 at 1:24 am #

      Is such a thing really possible? Not the kind of work that can be contracted out.

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