Sunday, August 29, 2010

FIELD OF DREAMS



Chihuly Dreamscape, St. Louis, MO
Autumn Field of Dreams, McLeansville, NC

There’s been a lot written and discussed about the dreams we human beings have in life. Many of those dreams of course get translated into prayers. And much has been written about unanswered dreams and prayers because the answer can be no, or maybe, but let’s wait and see what happens. In the movie Field of Dreams, the old country doctor gets another opportunity to turn back the clock and fulfill his earlier dream of spending his life as a professional baseball player instead of a health care professional. When confronted with the chance to replay his life differently, he still chose the healing path instead of the base path. If he had gotten a hit on his one big chance at baseball, many people whose lives he had touched in such a positive way would never have known him.

That scene brought back a childhood conversation I had with one of my uncles after we had all played a pick up baseball game at a family reunion. Even then, my dad had displayed a proficiency at shortstop that was still impressive. I was told in that short exchange that my dad had been asked to try out for the Saint Louis Cardinals farm club. The scout hit him scorching line drives and grounders for a couple of hours with none getting past him. He then offered my dad the chance to leave home and join the baseball club. But times were tough, and he passed on the dream, stayed at home and helped the family. When I questioned my mother about the decision, she noted that baseball simply didn’t pay the kind of money in those days that it does today.

That major decision in my father’s life quite probably resulted in our family’s creation. And mine. It’s good to have goals and dreams in life, but when life throws you a curve ball, it just might not be strike three. It might be ball four and a pass to begin a new path around the bases that leads to a new home. Only later after his too early death did I begin to also understand the time and patience he spent with me to teach me the baseball skills he had acquired. I didn’t become a professional baseball player either, but I learned that we’ve got to work hard at something to be really good at it, sportsmanship, a love for athletics, how to be a team player, developing lasting friendships with teammates, the thrill of competition, how to be a good winner as well as a good loser, and the love of a father to impart his dream to his child after he had chosen another path so that the dream remains alive.

And like the movie, the best times involved the simple act of playing catch in the backyard. It’s a very human act of “I give to you and you give back” connectedness, many times discussing something about life and many times in serene silence, with just the sound of the rawhide ball hitting the leather glove. The final act of redemption in the movie unfortunately doesn’t happen all too often in real life. The prodigal son gets a second chance to say, “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch”? And his dad replies, “I’d like that”.

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