If you build it, He will come.
That was mild mannered farmer and baseball-fan–with-daddy-issues Ray Kinella’s calling via whispering dembodied voice. And then a simple vision: take out a chunk of his cornfield and put in a ball field. Regulation Size. The professional looking paint. The big lights. Everything.
Thirty years later, Major League Baseball had a similar calling. No doubt accompanied with a vision of dollar signs dancing in front of their eyes. Why not recreate it? And recreate they did. On Aug. 12, 2021 at a tourist attraction baseball field in Dyersville, Iowa that was inspired by the movie.
I know, I know, it’s a cynical way of viewing the feat. But you know what? Doesn’t matter. Because folks… IT. MOVED. ME.
Watch this clip, courtesy of the MLB Youtube page, and check it out for yourself. Witness Dreams star Kevin Costner walking out of the corn with the moving James Horner score blaring from the speakers.
And then the Yankees and White Sox, in full vintage uniforms, come running, or should I say sauntering out behind him. A full 2:15 into it. Which doesn’t feel like a lot, but when a man is simply standing in the middle of a baseball field, staring at a baseball in his hand? Yeah, feel free to skip ahead to that timestamp. You’re welcome!
It was a ratings hit and it could be an annual event. Field of Dreams is back in the cultural zeitgeist! So let’s talk about it.
Is This Heaven?
Hearing a voice and a calling? One might think this is a religious film, but it’s not. Only it is, from a certain point of view. Baseball, long regarded as “America’s favorite pastime,” is treated here with reverence. Case in point: Read this soliloquy, expertly delivered with the chilling, yet poetic bass of James Earl Jones:
Terrence Mann: They'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.
Wow, it’s a speech that would convert the hardened hearts of the most jaded among us!
So course Ray, with the blessing of his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan, in easily the biggest leap in disbelief, ha), and facing mounting financial pressures, builds that diamond in the rough. The neighbors think he has lost his mind! But what else are you supposed to do when you hear a calling so clearly?
The promise? If he builds the field, then it will summon the spiritual presence of Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) – a player with the 1919 Chicago “Black Socks,” who was banned from the game, but protested till the day he died that he played the best he could despite that dark mark.
It happens. And Joe brings friends! “We’re keeping the field,” a bewildered Annie exclaims.
“Is this Heaven?” asks Shoeless Joe. Replies Ray: “No, it’s Iowa.”
But the calling doesn’t stop there. It sends Ray to Boston to find and enlist influential, but reclusive writer Terrance Mann (the aforementioned Jones) and then north to Minnesota on a quest to seek a doctor (Burt Lancaster), who never quite fulfilled his dreams playing at the professional level.
It all connects into a purpose. After all, aren’t those how callings work?
Not As Corny As You Think
Field of Dreams has a premise that feels so, pardon the easy pun, corny. But it rises above with grounded performances and heart. I was surprised at just how well it held up, how easily I was able to drop disbelief and just go along on the ride.
As a kid, I was big into the game of baseball, collecting the cards, following the Tigers, wearing out the pages of God Bless You Boys, the in season journal by Sparky Anderson, chronicling Detroit’s magical 1984 run to the World Series – a gift, because I was too young to remember it with clarity.
But at some point, the magic was lost. Field of Dreams, with its reminders of a time when the game was a game, rekindled it.
It’s more than a baseball movie, it’s a story of the value of supporting someone’s dreams, finding reconciliation from a strained relationship even long after that someone has shuffled off this mortal coil, and, of course, finding your calling and building on it.
What’s Your Calling?
What’s your calling? Oh, if only it were as easy as that clear, distinct whispered voice! Fortunately, there are ways to suss it out.
Barack Obama, perhaps you may have heard of him, boiled it down to the following: “Look. You can’t plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion—what you really care about.”
I like Tiny Buddha’s take on going about this discovery. It suggests:
- Notice what captivates you. Or more simply put, what engages (or even enrages) you? What do you find yourself excited for that makes you want to share with friends? What is in your search history? (Wait, don’t answer that)
- Take a life inventory. What things have you shown passion for? Special emphasis placed on life here. Remember those dreams you had as a kid? Don’t discount those as you track your evolution. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s still okay to ask: What do I want to be when I grow up? Give yourself permission to dream again!
- Journal on what your calling is. This is a popular topic in many self care circles and for good reason. Writing down your thoughts really can be quite therapeutic!
- Ask others what they think. Others see qualities we sometimes fail to see in ourselves, or deeply downplay. And many of us fail to give ourselves due credit. Imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head. And don’t shush that tiny Rob Schneider from Waterboy that resides in our brain. “YOU CAN DO IT!”
- Use Your Values as a Guide. Ever see a company or organization post a value statement? They do this because it informs what they do. Likewise, if we put our core values in writing, it can serve us in the same way.
Build It Up
When building, it’s always vital to have a plan, lest the structure implode! That in mind, here are three important considerations….
Get out of your comfort zone. So you have a general direction, but no destination? Try related things to your passion and throw yourself into a new adventure with reckless abandon!
Remember this quote from J.R.R. Tolkien: “Not all who wander are lost.” Sometimes during these wanderings, we find ourselves falling into something. In my early 30s, I experienced a call to the ministry, but not in the traditional sense of leading a church. I felt I needed to be in action outside of the four walls of the church, but had no idea what that looked like.
One thing led to another which led to another, and I somehow myself found confronted with a place that needed help where I was NOT comfortable – the local homeless shelter. I took the job anyways. Long story short, I fell in love with the place and stayed five years.
Sometimes to build up, you have to deconstruct. To build that baseball field, Ray and Annie had to make sacrifices. It meant removing some acres of corn, which translated to valuable income! Should we do likewise? Removing something from our lives and replacing it with something new?
Here’s a helpful question: What do you believe? Why do you believe it? Sometimes to answer that, we have to deconstruct. For me that happened when I entered seminary. Taking classes with challenging professors is a great way to do that, but of course, there are far more cost effective options! Visit the local library and read up on relevant subjects and be sure to expose yourself to alternate viewpoints.
Have you heard the calling? Don’t hang up! Rather than sit on it, build on it! A study from the University of Florida shows that having a calling and not following through on it could be worse than not having a calling itself!
Where to Watch
Field of Dreams is currently streaming for free (with ads, naturally) on The Peacock. Have you revisited the Field of Dreams lately? If you have discovered your own calling, what advice would you give to help others get there? Go the Distance and share in the comments below!
Field of Dreams (1989)
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Screenwriter: W.P. Kinsella
Cast: Kevin Costner, Burt Lancaster, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, Gabby Hoffman, Timothy Busfield
Runtime: 107 minutes
Scott is a movie lover who brings over 20 years experience in mental health, journalism and vocational ministry. He has a Masters of Divinity degree, which is not nearly as amazing sounding as Masters of the Universe, but it is what it is. It is here at Movies That Move Us where his powers combine! It is not uncommon to find him pretending to open automatic doors using The Force.