Living in This World


I'll admit it. I love the 4th of July! Maybe it's
because it's a holiday for which I have no worship responsibilities, so I can
just enjoy it along with everyone else. Maybe it's because there are no presents
involved. I'm sure parades and fireworks have something to do with it,
John adams william daniels
At our house, there is a ritual re-watching of the
movie version of "1776," that musical telling of the story of the Founding
Fathers of our nation, complete with dancing. We have spent many long car trips
over the years singing along with the original Broadway cast recording, sharing
John Adams' frustration with the people reluctant to declare, as he put it,
One of my favorite moments comes near the end of
the show, when Adams is discouraged, convinced that the conclusion he KNOWS is
the right one will never be reached. He has done everything he can to push and
pull others along; now he must step back and watch, see how things play out, and
he feels profoundly sad.
In real life, Adams and his wife, Abigail, carried
on a lively epistolary relationship, writing to each other about everything from
their farm and children to religion and politics. In the play, she stands at the
side of the stage, singing and talking to her husband, offering the
encouragement he needs, a living letter of love. At his most downcast, she
reminds him of something he once said to her:
There are only
two creatures of value on the face of the earth: those with the commitment, and
those who require the commitment of others.

Then she sings the most unlikely love song ever. I get choked up every time I hear it, or rather sing along with it:


Compliments of the Concord Ladies Coffee Club,

And the Sisterhood of the Truro Synagogue,

And the Friday Evening Baptist Sewing Circle,

And the Holy Christian Sisters of Saint Claire

All for you, John

I am as I ever was and ever shall be,

Yours, yours, yours!

John (speaking):

Abigail, what's in these kegs?

Abigail (singing):

Saltpetre, John!

What are you committed to as we observe this 232nd Independence Day? What are you hoping will come to pass, but perhaps need to sit back and just observe?

Whatever those things might be, and however you might be feeling about our country's place in the world today, remember that there is hope, just as there was in foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy…Philadelphia!

8 thoughts on “Commitment”

  1. I so want to regain that sense of pride in our nation and the way we project ourselves and our ideals into the world and am hoping for some change… and soon. Happy July 4th dear Songbird.

  2. 1776 is a fav. Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me had a quiz where they would name a piece from a musical and get progressively easier until someone got the name of the musical. The only one I got on the first song was “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” The panel didn’t get that or “The Egg”. My favorite is John Rutledge’s “Molasses, to Rum, To Slaves”. Of course that’s for two reasons, I’m a Southerner and I like pointing out hypocrisy. Happy Fourth. I’m off to find a copy of 1776 to watch!

  3. We *must* spend a Fourth of July together someday.
    Pins, Abigail!

  4. Don’t remember seeing this movie or play….read the bios of John and Abigail when I was little…have a happy 4th!

  5. happy independency to you too! i am committed in my heart to making a big, big professional career life change… in order to reclaim my own independency.

  6. The current state of the nation fills me with too much dread and foreboding to dive into it fully. So I’ll just dip my toe now and again. And try to stay wise on it where I have to.
    Otherwise, my commitment has to change a bit from focusing all my time on others to some time on my bone and overall health. This time I am trying something different. If I can dedicate this focus to God and regard myself as worshiping him with my body, and what I would rather be at the end of it all, then maybe I’ll be able to make sustainable practices rather than my usual perfunctory spurts.

  7. Aha!! Somebody else who memorized the words and music to 1776! And who also watches the movie. Do you have a copy of Peter Stone’s script? I got one as present shortly after seeing the play on Broadway when I was in 10th grade.That’s when I fell in love with John Adams. A year or so later I did a senior paper on John Adams and argued that he was a most maligned Founding Father and never got his due. I really enjoyed the recent HBO series on him, and wish I’d written David McCollough’s book!

  8. It’s great to be reminded of the vision that the Founders had for our country. Thanks, Songbird.
    Did you have some Texas Chocolate Sheetcake with your video? We had lots of it down here as we watched fabulous fireworks over Carancuha Bay!

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