I grew up on the edge of a very large field. I spent countless hours of my childhood in that field. It was a magical and special place. It held a mystery and promise in it’s tall grass and taller trees. But why? It was just a field. No big deal. A oddly shaped chunk of grass surrounded by trees and cow pastures. A weird little raised shed in the middle with a rusty wheel leaning against it. It didn’t even stay a “field” all the time. Four months out of the year, it was a hopeless muddy swamp that ate shoes and smelled funny.
So, what drew me out there? It wasn’t the grass. That made me itchy most of the time and the bits got stuck in my shoes and chafed the bottoms of my feet. It wasn’t the sun who either hid her face from me or blazed down, burning my skin. It wasn’t the wind, blowing either hot or cold-the kind that gets into your bones. But, my field always called to me, missing me, wanting me to come and listen, for there, I learned most of my important lessons in life.
I learned to love the color purple from watching the huge thistles at the top of the hill bloom with bright flowers once a year. I learned that it takes a lot to fell a tree and that the fall bring a satisfaction and a sadness at the same time. I learned that Mom was going to be quite upset if I came home with only one shoe after tramping through the swampy section of the field. I never figured out how the shoes never showed up again. One of my more important lessons was to stand up very quickly in the tall grass when I heard our neighbors dirt bikes approaching! Oh, and it may look cute in pictures when cowgirls wear shorts and tank tops to bring in hay bales, but if you don‘t want shredded skin, wear jeans and a long sleeved shirt! It’s hot and unattractive, but if I wanted to take a bath without wincing for a week, I’d gladly cover up! I also learned that it was nicer to fall off my horse in the tall grass than the sawdust riding arena, but it was harder to catch the horse with no fences to keep him from running off! And, there is a sweetness to falling asleep at night with the cool breeze blowing the sound of crickets and frogs into my window.
I learned to play, by myself, with no toys or television or radio. I learned that my imagination was better than any story already told. I learned to be quiet and watch as grasshoppers bigger than my hands would leap and fly a few feet and leap again. I wondered if he had to work hard at the flying or if he was just taking his time, enjoying the day. I made up conversations between the ants as they scurried around a stick that had fallen in their path. I fought dragons, rode magical horses and beat back invading armies. I was sometimes the hero, sometimes the princess, but always happy, playing in my field.
As I became a teenager, I didn’t hear the call of the field as often. I’m not sure if the field was quiet or if I had learned to not hear. But, even though fewer and farther between, the lessons taught by the field were deeper than when I was a child. When life got hard, my body felt that familiar tug towards my sanctuary. My first romance ended and I found solace as I lay in the grass with tears streaming down my cheeks. The smell of the earth and sound of the wind in the grass soothed me as the sun wrapped her arms around me and warmed my soul. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found myself in the field again, this time sobbing and screaming out my fears and anger. I learned to feel small, but loved, in the presence of God under the night sky and to sense Him holding on to me as I lay watching the silver stars shine down. I would stand at the edge of the field, sometimes only for a few minutes, letting memories wash over me and would leave comforted and strengthened by the solidness and unchanging nature of that little field.
Even now, as an adult, long grown and moved away from my field, I still hear a faint call from time to time. Whenever my heart is hurting, is joyful or something huge has happened, I feel the need to go to my field and whisper my secrets to the long grass. I hope that my own son, only three months old, will grow up to hear the call of another field, maybe still far away whispering to him, “Come play with me”.