Or in this case, Wrigley Field. Now I know that there are truly grounds that are hallowed; the Mishkan in ancient times, Ground Zero in New York. But Wrigley Field, for even an occasional Cubs fan, can be seen as hallowed. I found this out recently, as my husband and I acted as chaperones for our son’s marching band. (No sneering, Sox fans . . . you know how you felt about Comiskey Park.)
I don’t know if you caught this on the news, among the other important revelations about the Middle East, our economy, the Republican primaries, and such, but this month marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off," and much of that movie was filmed in and around the North Shore. It was a party waiting to happen, and it did.
Part of the movie was filmed at Glenbrook North High School, as anyone knows, and so as part of the celebration, the organizers contacted the GBN marching band to play at Wrigley Field where they were going to show the movie on huge screens brought into the infield. My husband and I had signed up to chaperone that morning’s competition, so when Ferris was tacked on to the day, we got to go along.
The buses pulled up to a VIP parking area, and the kids started getting on their marching band uniforms, plumes and all (I was in charge of passing out plumes.) For those of you new to marching band parent life, as we are, this is no small endeavor. There are really big drums, lots of harnesses, hats, gloves, reeds and horns. The kids were ready to go in what seemed like minutes. They lined up, and after a quick tuning and explanation of the plan, the drum line began its basic marching rhythm. Immediately, the drum majors struck their leadership posture, and I couldn’t help but straighten up, too. The kids headed out onto Waveland Avenue from the parking lot, and suddenly, too numerous to walk on the sidewalk, they became their own parade. Passers-by stopped to wave and cheer. At the entrance, we parents formed two lines to keep the crowds from breaking the band's formation (now we were security!) and our kids walked through in perfect time. No kidding - the afternoon sun broke through, the sky was so blue, the crowd roared. I took a second to look around, and it really hit . . . we were at Wrigley Field; no, we were ON Wrigley Field! The actual grass. The actual warning track. And yes, the actual ivy. If this wasn't what it felt like to be on hallowed ground, I don't know what was. The rest of the parents had the same look as my husband and I did. We all got it. I know this because we were all snapping pictures with the same silly grins on our faces.
The kids played great, we took more pictures, the crowd roared, and then the kids marched back out onto the street, back to the buses, changed out of uniform and packed the instruments back into the truck. We received VIP seating, a shout-out from the emcees, free popcorn, and headbands. We snuggled under the blankets we brought and watched the movie with about 10,000 other people, under a perfect fall night.
It was awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
What makes hallowed ground? In Torah, we read, "make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among you"; God's telling us where the sacred place will be. This bit of sand will be holy, not that bit of sand. That worked in the wilderness, and again, when the Temples stood. What makes something hallowed now? Do we create it, or is it created for us? When does it reach the level of veneration and reverence? When does a place become kadosh, mostly translated as "holy," but also meaning "separate"? Perhaps it's shared stories. Perhaps it's meaningful moments by ourselves. But something inside says, "Pay attention to this place."
Now I know that Wrigley Field isn't the holy Temple mount. Neither is it lower Manhattan. It's good that we have our secular, accessible hallowed grounds. That's why we have so many Halls of Fame and why so many of the faithful flock there. There are moments when we feel that rush and awe in places of great beauty or solemnity. And sometimes we just need a crowd, ivy-covered walls and a marching band.