Peace without conflict isn’t peace at all; it is the illusion of fantasy. I am in Dyersville, IA the site of the Field of Dreams movie which was released in 1989. The story centers around a thirty-six-year-old, farmer named Ray Kinsella, who hears a voice, “If you build it, he will come.” Ray opens his heart to the possibility that there is more out there in the universe and follows the direction of the voice and builds a baseball field in the middle of his cornfield. He is ridiculed by his community, but that does not stop him from following his dream.
His dream takes him to Boston, MA where he meets his favorite writer, Terrance Mann who as a writer and activist has a conflicted past and then on to Chisolm, MN to connect with Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham who played one inning, but never got to bat in the major leagues.
It all culminates on the ballfield with Ray meeting his father in the prime of his life and having a simple “catch”. The question that his father asks, “Is this heaven,” Ray replies, “No, it’s Iowa.” He then follows up asking his father, “Is there a heaven” John simply replies, “yes, it’s the place where dreams come true.”
In our lives we experience conflict; conflict with parents, siblings, and even life. We have dreams, regrets, and sometimes we are able to make peace with the past. Other times we aren’t so successful.
As I stood out on the pitcher’s mound, I remembered every conversation I had with my father. The good, bad, and downright ugly. It was as Terrance Mann said, “like dipping my feet in magic waters.” I reached down and touched the clay dust mixed with stones and remembered that days before my dad died, I had the best conversation and prayer. I remembered what his hands felt like and his smile as we said, “good bye.” It was like it happened yesterday.
Peace without conflict is the illusion of fantasy. If we didn’t have the dark times in our life, we would have never appreciated the good times. We live in a world of conflict with very little peace. So far on this trip across the country I am experiencing peace and I will never be the same. Each of us have “stuff” in the trunks we carry. We need to gain perspective and begin to unpack. Unpacking looks different to all of us. It sometimes looks like sessions with a therapist in their drab offices with hotel artwork. Sometimes it looks like conversations over coffee or visits to a cemetery. Sometimes it looks like crosses in the distance with the darkness of the day settling in reminding us that we are in the presence of death.
Death is not where God leads us. God leads us to a tomb which has been ripped open by life and a garden which is bursting forth with grape vines and foliage. The resurrected Jesus stands in the midst waiting for us to come home.
For me in this time, season of life; I am making peace with the past. That means conflict. Conflict is not a bad thing as it always leads to peace.
I came to Iowa to the Field of Dreams. Where is your field of dreams? What is it that you need to make peace with? God knows we all need peace, but we must not fear the conflict that it takes to get to that peace. “Peace be with you,” It is time my friend to stop staring at the cross and to walk in the garden. That’s what the women did that resurrection morning. Walk in the light of morning and bear witness to the goodness, the glory of God.
Rev. Daniel J. Bradley