field-of-dreamsThe Spirit of October

There is nothing quite like baseball in October. The crisp nights, deafening cheers, final outs, and champagne celebrations all lend themselves to the spirit of October baseball, and the fall classic that is the World Series. It is in this spirit that I always like to take about two hours on a weekend in October to watch one of my favorite movies: Field of Dreams. This Academy Award nominated film, much like baseball and the World Series itself, is about so much more than what is happening on the field. Last weekend I partook in my annual fall ritual and watched the film, but this time with new eyes and a new perspective. Released in 1989, this film pretty explicitly centers around faith, forgiveness, and fellowship; those elements of the movie I had always known. But an element that I had not seen before is how important the role of vocations is to the story. Now hear me out… This movie is certainly not about discernment to the priesthood or religious life, but it is about following your calling. And in the case of this film, the calling is very literal.

Stopping at Nothing

Most people would probably consider Ray Kinsella (the film’s main character played by Kevin Costner) crazy for plowing his corn under in order to build a baseball field, but he knew deep down that this was what he was supposed to do. So he ignores the naysayers and critics, he ignores the insults and jokes and simply has faith in his calling. Ray pursues the meaning behind his calling with reckless abandon, almost to the point of financial ruin for his family. But all along he keeps the faith in what he believes he was being called to do. Now while it is obviously always important to make prudent (especially financial) decisions for yourself and for your family, Ray’s dedication and willingness to follow his calling is exemplary. Ray’s example in this movie (while a bit extreme) teaches us that we should not let anything hinder us from following what God is calling us to do. We should not let the judgment of others or hurtful words or even money derail our path to living out our vocation.

“Moonlight” Graham

moonlight-grahamNow in addition to Ray’s devotion to following his calling there is another character in the film that gives us yet another great example of living out our vocation. The character of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham is portrayed as a young rising star in the world of baseball (played by Frank Whaley) as well as a seasoned retired small town doctor (played by Burt Lancaster). The story goes that the young Archie Graham played only one game for the (then) New York Giants, but never got a chance to bat. He then gives up his playing career because he feels called to help others by becoming a doctor. When “Moonlight” Graham tells Ray his story, Ray responds in disbelief, saying that for five minutes Moonlight came *this* close. Ray says that it would kill some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it, that they’d consider it a tragedy. Moonlight responds wisely by saying, “Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.”

Is this heaven?

Who knew that one of the greatest sports movies of all time could teach us so much about vocations? About how to stop at nothing to follow where God is leading you? About the importance of giving up on your own desires, and giving in to God’s desire for you. A good way to think about your vocation is that it is God’s “dream for your life.” If we follow where God is leading us and embrace the realities of our vocation, God’s dream for us will come true. By fulfilling the dream that God has for us we can bring a little bit of heaven to earth.