Field of Dreams

(Penned Saturday, October 14, 2017)

When I was fifteen years old, my parents went out one night to see a movie. They came back, gushing about Field of Dreams. I thought it was strange that they had chosen that movie. I only knew it as a baseball movie. My parents had never even liked or watched baseball.

I was probably in college when I watched Field of Dreams for the first time. It immediately became my favorite movie, and it has never lost its luster for me, even after 28 years. The thing about a favorite movie is that it stands the test of time. It speaks to the truest part of your soul, which is timeless and never-changing.

In my teens and twenties, the movie symbolized listening to that voice whispering in your head, and acting on it, even if it was a crazy idea. It meant following your dreams, no matter the cost. And make no mistake- there would be costs. I never did anything as crazy or as risky as building a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. I married, had a family, and dived full-force into that life. I did what I had always wanted to do, but it wasn’t outside of any norms, either. I tried to do the right things, the reasonable things. I stumbled. I fell. I struggled. I carried on, living the life of family.

But still, I always connected with that part of the story. Listen to the voice; follow your dreams. Even if they’re far-fetched or down-right crazy.

I haven’t read the Bible. I don’t follow any scriptures or prescribe to any one doctrine or religion. But I was moved by the first whisper Kevin Costner/ Ray Kinsella heard in the cornfield.

If you build it

he will come

My truest understanding of God originated in this whispered line from the movie.

If you build it

he will come

To me, it means that if you work hard toward something you want, you will get the divine help of the universe, of God, of the Holy Spirit. First comes the work. The building of it. The toil. The hiccups. The frustrations that come with starting something new. But if you stick with it, keep at it, keep working toward what you want, God will step in. The right people will show up to help you. The way will be revealed. Things will start to click and work out. First the work, then God. This is my belief. I believe this with my whole heart. This is my prayer. It has never let me down. It has always held up to scrutiny. I have tried to challenge it, to turn it on its head. Never works. First the work, then God.

If you build it

he will come

I had this quote printed out and taped above my computer monitor for years. But whether it is printed doesn’t matter. It is etched on my heart and each passing year reinforces its truth.

If you build it

he will come

I had a rare night at home alone when I was in my early thirties. My husband and two small children were… I don’t even know where. It was October. I was feeling some kind of way. You know. Depleted. Hopeless. Helpless. I couldn’t have told you why. So I grabbed the thing that had always cheered me up, inspired me, helped me see the beauty in life again. Field of Dreams. I popped it into the DVD player and lay flat out on the sofa, not even caring that I was watching the movie sideways. I knew it by heart at that point. I just wanted to watch Kevin/ Ray do the crazy thing again and be rewarded for it. I needed to see that line of headlights snaking through the cornfields. He was going to build it and they were going to come. The payoff to all of his hard work. His dream coming true.

That’s a nice story right there.

But the movie played, and I was numb. And I barely took it all in. Until the part near the end where Ray’s dad steps out of the cornfield. Ray is watching from the bleachers. And he sees his dad. Really sees him as he never had before. Ray sees his dad as a young man, full of hope and promise. Before his dreams died.

Ray had never known that man. He knew a different, harder, damaged man as his father. But because of all of the work that Ray had done to build the baseball field, something his father also loved, he was able to connect with him in a loving way. He was able to forgive him.

I bawled my eyes out watching that scene. Before, that scene had just been a sweet game of catch between father and son before the hordes of visitors arrived. This time it hit me hard. So that’s what the movie had really been about all this time? A father and son who loved the same thing but couldn’t love each other.

If you build it

he will come

I had worked over that quote so much in my mind, trying to figure out what “he” symbolized. I knew that “he” wasn’t the White Sox. At one point, I thought “he” was “them”- the line of cars snaking through the cornfields. I had thought “he” was God, too. Turned out, “he” was just plain old “him,” his father. But he did come. He showed up. And in that moment, he was everything. And Ray forgave him. And he knew peace.

After that experience of seeing the movie in a new light, I doubled down on living out my favorite quote. My prayer. My belief system:

If you build it

he will come

I had not had a good relationship with my father for many years at that point. There were fights and tears and so much anguish on my part. But I thought that if I kept working on our relationship, trying to communicate, that eventually it would all work out. God would step in and fix it. Fix us.

If you build it

he will come

Over the next few years, I plowed the cornfields, laid out the perimeters, chalked the baselines. I planted the grass, erected the lights, and built the bleachers. It was going to be beautiful.

It never was. I built it, but he never came.

I closed the ball field five years ago. I was spent. I had done all I could do. I returned to it tentatively in different ways over the last five years, but the chalk lines had blown away. Weeds had choked out the grass. The bleachers had crumbled and the lights had burned out.

My dad died last Saturday.

I am waiting for my dad to walk out of the cornfield. I am waiting to see him in a different light. I know that forgiveness will come. I am waiting on my field of dreams. I’m waiting.

If you build it

he will come

I have always trusted that whisper. Please, God, let it still be true.