Column: ‘Dreams of Fields’: building a place of forgiveness

Linda Tossey


The old 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, may be worth another look if you haven’t seen it in a while. It’s about a man who built a magical baseball field — a baseball field of redemption.

There was redemption for Shoeless Joe Jackson and those other infamous White Sox players who were banned from the game. As the movie plays out, we learn it was really a field where the man’s broken relationship with his father was redeemed, forgiven, healed.

It was a field of second chances. It was a field of redemption. It was a field of forgiveness.

We may not be able to build a magical field, but we can create, dream, build a place within ourselves where forgiveness can happen.

It’s in one of the ending scenes of the movie where Ray Kinsella, the lead character, meet his father again. But on this magical field of dreams, his father appears as a much younger man, long before Ray was born.

The scene begins with Shoeless Joe Jackson, who lets Ray know that seeing his dad in a new way was what this crazy adventure was all about. Ray then sees his dad standing behind home plate. He sees his youth, his hope. Ray sees him in a way he had never seen him before. Ray, as the narrator of the film, speaks this line: “I only knew him when he was worn down by life.”

Somehow, by seeing his father as a young man, vulnerable and full of hope, Ray felt differently about him and found a way to forgive. He understood more clearly what had caused pain. He found a way to reconcile his feelings about his dad. He found healing for his heart.

Perhaps we can all dream of a field where our hearts can be more forgiving of someone who hurt us, failed us or couldn’t be what we hoped they would be. A parent, a friend, a sister, brother, a colleague, a son, a daughter.

Perhaps we can imagine them in a new way, as young and hopeful, before whatever struggles of life wore them down. Struggles we may not know about. Perhaps, as Jesus said, we could stop condemning and start forgiving.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning what they did or pretending it never happened.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing others to take advantage of you.

Rather, forgiveness means to let go; to let go of the anger and the resentment so negative emotions don’t consume your emotional energy and your well-being. In Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, forgiveness means to untie; untie yourself from that resentment, untie yourself from that anger.

Forgiveness means to free yourself.

Yes, it does take time. We may need to walk through our process of forgiveness repeatedly. It may, indeed, take 70 times seven.

Finding a way to forgive the hurts of the present and the wrongs of the past, finding a way to untie ourselves, is one of the ways to grow more deeply and profoundly in our connection with the Divine. It is the essence of living a more whole and healed life in this broken world.

The Sufi poet, Rumi, once wrote, “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

We have the ability to dream and then build that field within our own hearts. A field where we open our hearts to seeing others with new eyes. A field where we make room for the Holy to call the plays.

For surely we’ve all swung and missed. Surely we’ve all struck out. Surely all of us could use a field of second chances, a field of redemption, a field of forgiveness. Let us build it for one another.

Linda Tossey is pastor of People’s Congregational Church in Bayport.