My son and I spend a lot of time in the common area of our James Island townhouse complex. It’s a big grassy field – nothing special and rarely mowed, peppered with dusty bare patches. But still, we while away the hours there. It’s perfect for sports, backyard camping, drone flying, and Nerf gun battles.
On the east end of the field is a rickety wood privacy fence that stumbles and stretches 300 feet north to south; it’s the dividing line that separates our modest townhomes from a row of bigger, more expensive single-family houses. That old fence serves as a backstop when I’m pitching baseballs to my son – or as a soccer goal when he’s taking shots on me. On it, he used chalk to draw a belly-high catcher’s mitt. On either side of my pitching target, he drew two posts to serve as a soccer goal.
In the beginning, it was just an ordinary field. Grass and dirt and potential. Over time it became something else, something more. Now that field is sacred ground. A place where a father and son can be truly in the moment, mindful and acutely aware of their present time and space. There, the fighter jet velocity of time seems to slow and even pause, absent the bustle and swift pace of everyday life.
That field calls to us and we answer the bell as often as we can. In a whimsical way, I think that field needs us much as we need it. Truth is, we don’t like leaving its familiar comfort. But darkness always falls, as if God is pulling the bedtime blanket over our small corner of the world: That’s it, boys. Time to go home.
I see that field as a reminder – a gentle tap on the shoulder – that there’s a much bigger picture out there. And it might be easier to see and closer than you think. Years from now, I hope that my son remembers that field. I hope he fondly recalls our time there. Like the memories I have of my own father.