Though I’ve been frequently mocked for being a Kevin Costner fan, I have to admit that Field of Dreams has been one of my favorite movies for 20 years. Once, while on a business trip a few years ago, I even visited the actual field at the site where the movie was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa.
Sadly, the stigma of the string of recent Costner disappointments, along with my over-exposure to Field of Dreams, led me to avoid watching that movie for several years, though.
Renee even purchased the 20-year-anniversary special edition DVD of Field of Dreams for my birthday a couple of years ago, but up until last week, I don’t think I had even opened it.
For reasons I still don’t understand, my son, Ben, asked me if we could watch it. When I asked why, Ben shrugged and said with typical 10-year-old eloquence, “I don’t know; I just want to see it.”
I spent a few minutes trying to come up with better options but ultimately caved to that silly child and decided I had shunned Kevin long enough. Grace abounds, I guess. Ben and I hid in my bedroom from the family herd with a pile of pillows and blankets and bucket of popcorn and hit the play button.
About half way through, Ben was snoring quietly next to me, and I was enthralled in memories and baseball dreams in Iowa.
Several scenes in that movie really get to me – Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) appearing on the dark baseball field in the middle of the corn for the first time, Jackson’s comments about how he loved baseball, Archie “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster) dying in the seventies in one scene then hitchhiking to Iowa as a young man in the eighties to find a place to play baseball in the next scene, Archie Graham stepping off the field and being transformed back into the old “Doc Graham” again to save a choking girl only to discover he’s not able to go back to being a young baseball player again, and the speech by Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) about how baseball has marked the years of America.
The scene that truly gets to me, though, is the same scene that made the movie a hit back in the day. It’s the very end of the movie when Ray Kinsella (Costner), and his wife and daughter, discover that the fellow who’s been playing catcher on their baseball field all day is John Kinsella, Ray’s estranged father, as a young man.
As the sun sets warmly over the tall corn and the theme music picks up volume, John and Ray get reacquainted after almost twenty years of bitterness and John’s death:
John: Can I ask you a question?
John: Is this heaven?
Ray: (Chuckling) No, it’s Iowa.
John: Hmmm. I could have sworn this was heaven.
Ray: Is there a heaven?
John: Oh yeah. It’s the place where dreams come true.
Ray: (turning to see the beauty of his farm and listening to the echo of the laughter coming from his wife and daughter on the distant front porch of their home) Maybe this is heaven.
(John turns to walk toward the corn.)
Ray: Hey, Dad!
John: Yeah, Son?
Ray: You wanna have a catch?
John: (with a tear in his eye) I’d like that.
(Ray picks up his glove and a baseball and the two grown men cry as they toss it back and forth and the camera pans up and away.)
I know, I know. It’s so humiliating to admit it, but I cried like a baby at that scene – for the 100th time, I guess. What a sucker for cheesy drama am I?
I can’t help it though. I love the idea that reconciliation is possible, even after years of bitterness and anger. I love the idea that dreams just might come true, even after we’re old and used up, if we can live wildly enough to follow a vision.
Mostly, I love the possibility that heaven is closer than we think; that heaven is present because Christ is present, and all that is true and good in this world comes from him, and is heavenly. Maybe this is heaven. Maybe my son sleeping next to me as I cry, and pray I’ll be a good father, is proof positive that there is a heaven.
Hey, Ben? You wanna have a catch?