Tuesday, June 14, 2016

VBS, Orlando, Hamilton, and the unimaginable

Most of what I knew about Alexander Hamilton was what I learned in school.

Namely, that he was a Founding Father of the United States, that he was our first Secretary of the Treasury, that his picture is on the 10 dollar bill, and that he died in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Last night I went to our Vacation Bible School.  Before our minister started the lesson, he talked about what happened in Orlando.  He shared the song, "It's Quiet Uptown," from the musical "Hamilton", which won the Tony Award for best musical on Sunday.

The song describes the grief of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton after the death of their son Philip.  Philip publicly called out a man who had insulted his father.  In the ensuing duel, Philip was shot and died 14 hours later.

I had not known that Philip, too, had died in a duel.  Philip died in 1801.  His father would die the same way in 1804.

Our theme for VBS this year is "Moses: Nothing Can Stop Us!"  I'm sure that our minister intended for us to learn about Moses, about how God was "I Am", and that He would always be with us.

Instead, I left with the words and melody of "It's Quiet Uptown" ringing in my head, and with perhaps a tiny taste of what 49 families are experiencing right now.

The unimaginable.



There are moments that the words don't reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you're in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down.


The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable.


I spend hours in the garden
I walk alone to the store
And it's quiet uptown
I never liked the quiet before
I take the children to church on Sunday 
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray
That never used to happen before.

Angelica and women:

If you see him in the street
Walking by himself
Talking to himself
Have pity


Philip, you would like it uptown
It's quiet uptown

Angelica and women:

He is working through the unimaginable.

All men (except Hamilton)

His hair has gone grey
He passes every day
They say he walks the length of the city.


You knock me out, I fall apart

Company (except Hamilton and Eliza)

Can you imagine?


Look at where we are
Look at where we started
I know I don't deserve you, Eliza
But hear me out
That would be enough.

If I could spare his life
If I could trade his life for mine
He'd be standing here right now
And you would smile
And that would be enough
I don't pretend to know
The challenges we're facing
I know there's no replacing what we've lost
And you need time 
But I'm not afraid
Just let me stay here by your side
That would be enough

Company (except Hamilton and Eliza)

If you see him in the street
Walking by her side
Talking by her side
Have pity


Eliza, do you like it uptown?
It's quiet uptown

Company (except Hamilton and Eliza)

He is trying to do the unimaginable
See them walking in the park
Long after dark
Taking in the sights of the city


Look around
Look around

Company (except Hamilton and Eliza)

They are trying to do the unimaginable


There are moments that the words don't reacy
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable
They are standing in the garden
Alexander by Eliza's side
She takes his hand


It's quiet uptown

Company (except Hamilton and Eliza)

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine?

If you see him in the street
Walking by her side
Talking by her side
Have pity
They are going through the unimaginable.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

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