Monday, August 16, 2021

MLB at Field of Dreams: Here's to the 2021 School Year

The 2021-2022 school year at Saint Francis High School officially begins on Wednesday, August 18.  With 10 minute classes, we have just enough time to welcome students, introduce ourselves and share an insight or two about the course. And, thanks to MLB at Field of Dreams that took place on August 12 between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees in Dyserville, Iowa I know exactly what I will share.

I have always loved the artwork of Lisa B. Johannes entitled "Is this heaven?"

My two sections of seniors enrolled in Sports and Spirituality will be asked to pull out their notebooks and with pen in hand and respond to the following statement: "I believe in things visible and invisible." I can't wait to hear what they have to say.

Perhaps these words are familiar to you. I say them with conviction at Mass when we stand and profess the Nicene Creed. I have never been a person who must "see to believe." To me, there is so much more to life than what meets the eye. Such is the stuff of the spiritual life. 

It's also the premise of the movie "Field of Dreams" in which Kevin Costner, playing Ray Kinsella—an Iowa farmer turned mystic—greets his father for the first time in years thanks to a call and a commitment to build a baseball field. The catch? (both literal and metaphoric here) is something that takes place on a diamond that he builds from his corn fields. 

Ray hears the voice. He sees Shoeless Joe Jackson. Some do, like his daughter and others do not. For Ray and his family, the invisible IS visible to him. Thanks be to God. 

If you would like to use "Field of Dreams" in your own Religious Studies class, I have created a discussion guide hereIt is a beautiful movie—the setting, the music and the lighting. It is a weird one too. How perfect for teenagers. I have written a number of blog postings about this movie you might enjoy. 

Kerry Weber, editor of America magazine writes, "You Don't Have to Love Baseball to The thing about “Field of Dreams,” though, is that you don’t have to love baseball to find beauty in the film. You just have to want to be reminded of the power of faith in things unseen and the need to find courage to follow a path not yet trod. It offers stories of second chances and reminders of the beauty of reaching out when all seems lost, only to find that someone has been watching out for you all along."

I think "Field of Dreams" offers an invitation to reflect on some very basic questions that relate to the spiritual lives. For example, In your own faith life—What messages have you heard? Have you been called to do something that is as Ray says, "totally illogical?" Do your family members see what you see? Do they support you in your vision? Field of Dreams is just one way to consider what our Creed outlines as truth. 

Sure you can call it a smart marketing gimmick by MLB, but for me it offered good press and a new chapter in the story of Field of my students will read again this Fall. It evokes so many of the primary themes of my class—mystery, pilgrimage, beauty, sacrifice, reconciliation and the afterlife. Sometimes, believing IS seeing. 

Photo Credits
Is this Heaven?
MLB at Field of Dreams
Corn Field

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