Field of Dreams
“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field.” – Exodus 23:16 (NIV)
When it comes to baseball, I am an agnostic. But when it comes to Iowa, I am a fan.
So I was thrilled when the recent “Field of Dreams” game between the Yankees and the White Sox became the most-watched MLB game since 2005, with 6 million viewers. I don’t think Iowa’s received that much attention since we botched the caucuses last year, but let’s not dwell on all that. Back to our beautiful Field of Dreams!
I understand that one could be cynical about a nostalgia-driven media event based on a fictional book and made-up movie script, none of which ever actually happened. But why go there? Wasn’t it amazing to see the New York and Chicago players appear amidst the stalks of corn?
Well, here’s a little Iowa backstory. The night before the big game, bad summer weather swept through the fields, as it does in Iowa. Storms crushed that carefully manicured corn. But it didn’t crush the spirits of the Iowa farmers and volunteers, who literally zip-tied those corn stalks to metal beams so they could stand up straight again. Some might call it fake, but I call it real. It was ordinary people wanting the world to see their home at its extraordinary best.
In the movie’s final scene, when Ray Kinsella’s father appears on the ballfield, he asks in all sincerity, “Is this heaven?” And his son responds, “This is Iowa.” In this, the movie’s ending, Ray does not precede his answer with a “No” or a “Yes.”
Like Ray, I aspire to live in the liminal space between heaven and earth, where there is no such thing as a flyover state and where every field is full of dreams.
Thank you, God, for the view from heaven, also known as Iowa. Amen.
Lillian Daniel is Senior Pastor at First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa. She is the author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To and When “Spiritual but not Religious” is Not Enough.