I’ve been thinking a lot about a quote from Field of Dreams recently. I hope you’ve seen the movie; it’s one of my favorites. In it, a lover of and former player of baseball begins to hear voices. More precisely, he hears one voice, a male one, saying very cryptic things that only the protagonist, Ray, can hear.
The first thing he hears is, “If you build it, he will come.” Of course, that is probably the most famous of the secret utterances. But the next thing Ray hears is, “Ease his pain.” I forgot to mention Ray is a farmer, and a failing one at that. He figures out what to build: a baseball field in the middle of his corn fields! And, just like Noah and the Ark, everyone he knows just about thinks he’s lost his mind. But he is sure of his mission, though he doesn’t know exactly why at this point.
But in the midst of the excavation he hears the second directive to ease the pain of someone, only who “he” is remains a mystery to Ray. Through a series of events that he and his wife experience, he decides “he” must be an author, Terrence Mann, who wrote a revolutionary book in the 1960’s that changed many people’s lives. He learns that Terrence was also a baseball lover once upon a time and, though once again, Ray’s not sure why, he goes on a road trip he can ill afford to take due to pressing farming issues, to find and do…something! Ray isn’t even sure how to ease the author’s pain; he just knows with every fiber of his being, that he needs to find Terrence.
The biggest problem is that Terrence Mann hasn’t written a thing in years and is a recluse now. What is Ray to do? He finds Terrence and begs him to come with him to a baseball game. After much back and forth, to which I could never do justice, Ray ‘fake kidnaps’ Terrence (using his hand in his pocket as his faux ‘gun’) to get him to the game. While there Ray sees another baseball player, long deceased, on the ‘Jumbotron!’ No one else in the packed stadium seems to notice and neither, based on his demeanor and after direct questioning, does Terrence. A while later Ray and we will learn that Terrence did see the figure on the screen, but at that time did not trust Ray and held that information close to his vest.
There is much that takes place after this that is just lovely, some sad, much hopeful, and I do urge you to see the movie if you never have, or to see it again if it’s been more than a couple of years. All of this recalling of the film is to talk about the second utterance from the disembodied voice that only Ray, and we, can hear.
“Ease his pain.” Another way of saying, “Heal that man.” For when someone is healed of a malady, any pain associated with the sickness or injury fades away, as well. Indeed, the relief as the pain subsides borders on euphoria for many! We want to be healed so the pain will end and so we can go back to being a whole person again, productive, able to think, do, just be, without anxiety, fear, or just distraction. If we can’t focus, it is much more of a challenge to be productive or creative.
Many, if not most times, when we are feeling ill or are in pain, we visit a doctor, or else someone takes us to an emergency room if we’re not able to take ourselves. We seek healing from a physician who is trained and has a heart for making people well and whole again.
Which brings me to another quote I heard today while listening to a podcast referring to the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector and that made him a sinner in the eyes of his people. He had made a choice to assist in oppressing his brethren in faith; he chose to burden his fellow citizens in order to make money. A very dishonorable person, to be sure. And yet, Jesus eats with him, breaks bread at Matthew’s table in his own home! To touch a sinner and to go into his home was to be a sinner, also, to be made unclean by simple association.
The Pharisees are perplexed and agitated, to say the least. When asked why he would do such a thing, in Matthew 9:12-13, …Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
In other words, Jesus wanted to ease his pain. The Divine Physician desires this for all of us. He wants to ease our pain, heal us, deliver us from evil. He can do that when we humble ourselves to receive Him in our hearts and in our lives. But not a lot of humility is required, actually. Because we just have to turn to Him and then He reaches out or calls out to us and brings us to Himself. We say we’re sorry because we have hurt others, ourselves, and Him and He forgives. He heals. He eases our pain.
At the end of Field of Dreams the many baseball players who appear, all of them long gone to their ‘eternal reward’ are in this field playing ball with their buddies, whether they knew them on earth or not. They know them now. One player, I won’t say who, actually asks Ray, “Is this Heaven?” Ray replies, “It’s Iowa.” Heaven is where we bring it; it’s where God is and where we praise, adore, and worship Him. It’s where we serve Him by serving our brothers and sisters who need our help, our mercy, our love. Jesus wants us to forgive our neighbor, our enemy, ourselves as He forgives us. We accept the Lord’s mercy; how can we not be merciful? I promise it’s easy with the love of God within you.
We will fall more than once and skin our knees or turn an ankle, spiritually speaking. But the Doctor who heals all that matters, even if He doesn’t heal matter sometimes, will make us whole again.