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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Ultimate Field of Dreams

   Everyone has probably seen, or is familiar with, the movie Field of Dreams. It is a baseball movie that is NOT about baseball. The movie is about dreams: broken dreams; unfulfilled dreams; and dreams of reconciling past hurts or wrongs. An Iowa farmer (Ray Kinsella), after hearing voices instructing him to do so, plows under his corn and builds a baseball field, thinking it will bring back Shoeless Joe Jackson (who was his father's hero). The field does bring back Shoeless Joe, but the ultimate reason for building the field is that it brings back Ray's dad, whom he had a falling out with when he was seventeen. Ray's dad died before he could make things right, and he lived with that regret all his life.
   We all have unfulfilled dreams We all understand that longing to reconcile a past hurt, but we are either unable (because the person died) or just don't know how to make things right. We spend our lives in sadness or frustration over what might have been, unable or unwilling to go after that dream. We spend our lives in sadness or frustration over what happened, unable or unwilling to do whatever it takes to right the wrong. It seems that, in this life, our dreams are just that: wishes that can never come true. The appeal of Field of Dreams is that for Ray, in this life, magic happens and his dream is fulfilled.
   In the film, there are a couple of exchanges where the characters talk about heaven. In one particular exchange, between Ray and his father, the father asks if they are in heaven, to which Ray replies, “No, it's Iowa.” Ray then asks his father, “Is there a heaven?” His father replies, “Oh yeah, it's the place where dreams come true.” Ray looks around at his farm, his family, and realizing his dream of reconciling with his father has come true, replies, “Maybe this is heaven.”
   Well, there is a place called heaven that waits for us when this life is over. It is real, and in a way it is the place where dreams come true. In heaven, the Bible tells us that:

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

   In heaven, all our dreams and hopes are fulfilled. In heaven there is no regret, no pain from past wounds, and no walls between us in our fellowship with others.
   I loved my dad, but as many fathers and sons do through life, we grew apart. We could watch sports together and enjoy each other's company, but the affinity was never as close as we would desire. And forget about talking politics, because the atmosphere would degenerate into downright enmity. Other than his last couple of days on earth, when he was in the hospital with a tube down his throat (unable to communicate, even nonverbally, with me) , I can't remember the last time I told my dad that I loved him. I can't remember the last time he said the words to me, either. We both loved each other, and we both knew that the other felt that way, but whether we were saying goodbye on the phone or after a visit, neither one of us could bring ourselves to say the words.
   In the past, every time I watched Field of Dreams, during the closing scene where Ray's father appears, as a young man, and they talk (culminating in Ray saying, “Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch”), I totally lost it; I cried like a baby. I was overcome with emotion. I so strongly desired to have that reconciliation with my dad, both of us young and vibrant, and having a fresh start, with no past, no history, just an unfettered relationship between father and son. At the same time, I knew, in this life, that reconciliation would never come. I knew that we would go through our entire lives with this wall between us: not in a position of hatred (or not speaking), but just an unsatisfactory relationship between father and son. The combination of longing for that reconciliation, and knowing that it would never come, overwhelmed me emotionally. I don't know why I watched it so many times.
   The week we got back from New Jersey (after my father passed away), I watched Field of Dreams again. Strangely though, this time, when the final scene played, I didn't lose it. It was still an emotionally touching scene for me, but I didn't lose it; I didn't even cry. It took me a while to figure out why that scene no longer caused me to break down, but I finally understand. Before my dad passed, the anguish of knowing that my desire for that kind of relationship would never be fulfilled was too much for me to take. After my dad passed, I knew that if (when) I saw him again, it could only be in heaven. In talking to and praying with my dad during those last couple of days, I believe with all me heart that he is in heaven. I believe that he cried out to God and trusted Him with his soul. Now, my dad is on that Ultimate Field of Dreams: the place where dreams come true, and there is no more sorrow or crying or pain or death. When I see my dad again, it will be in perfect fellowship. There will be no wall or impediment to emotional intimacy, just the perfect fellowship that God intended for all of us from the beginning, before sin entered the world. I no longer have to long for something that will not be: I can now rest in the peace of knowing that the next time I visit with my father, I will be able to say the words, “I love you, Dad.”