Our Field of Dreams and God’s Real-World Plan

The New York Yankees will play the Chicago White Sox Aug. 13, 2020 on the “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville, Iowa.

If you have not visited “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville, you should. It is the site of the film Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Kostner, which was released 30 years ago this month.

We visited the site, which is about 20 minutes west of Dubuque, Iowa, in summer 2011. It was part of my self-titled “Resolution Tour”, as in putting finality to some left-behind dreams from the early 1970s: my discerning the religious life with the Dominicans, who had a priory in the city at that time, my “message” that it was not what God had planned for me, a message brought to me with an incident requiring me to listen closely, take another person’s heart in my hands, figuratively, and seek my answers outside the friary setting.

My dream, my “answer”, had many more questions. Going back to Dyersville (which, you may be aware, is home to the 125-year old Basilica of St. Francis Xavier), and onto Dubuque, eight years ago was somewhat stressful for me, as I had not been inside KDTH, the radio station where I had been an air personality (yes, a “disc jockey” in the lingo) from early 1972 until I left the outside world for good, or so I dreamt, on the First Sunday of Lent, 1973.

I had been a postulant from November 1972 until I became a novice. I heard the call, and prayed for guidance: What do you want of me? I left my past, and, yes, a very nice lady, for what I considered my dream. God’s plan was different, and I left in Fall 1973, resuming what became a long career in broadcasting, which, I realize, was my dream, and God’s direction after all. I left a part of me at that building, and what was the message for me reopening that chapter in my life? What will I learn from this encounter with my long-past?

As to the “dream” in the film;

If you have not seen the movie Field of Dreams, please rent it. Spoiler: It’s about baseball, but it’s not.

There is a scene where Ray Kinsella (Kevin Kostner) is pursuing his dream of finding long-lost players for a final game on his land. He knows people will come to see it. This is the movie that etched into the culture the line “If you build it, they will come.”

Kinsella travels from his home in Iowa seeking out everyone he sees in his dream and stops in a small town in Minnesota in search of Moonlight Graham (Burt Lancaster, in one of his last roles). The clip is on YouTube, and I use it in my Media and Society class, talking about the “overt” and “covert” messages in film. One line sticks out, as Kostner’s character asks Lancaster’s character what it was like when he, Graham, didn’t make the majors and gave up on his dream.

“It was this close to your dreams, and you see it rush past you, like a stranger in a crowd.”

I won’t reveal much more, except to say that Kinsella tries to convince Graham to come to Iowa with him, and Graham demurs, saying his dream is in his hometown.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 reveals God’s word about dreams, warning of dreams which are false prophecy. His admonition to the exiles in Babylon gives us confidence today that, where we see human dreams might take us, God’s plan is in our midst:

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — oracle of the LORD — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.
When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.
When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart.

We pursue our dreams as a faithful people, knowing God is for us, thus we are safe, and whatever our dream, if it is sought with a faithful heart and with sincerity, will bring us to our goal.

Michael Throop