The Canonical Tweets of Lin-Manuel Miranda

Commentary
By Jessica Kantrowitz 7-16-2018
Lin-Manuel Miranda joins the Families Belong Together march in Washington, D.C., June 30. Terry Underwood Evans / Shutterstock.com

The world changes.
The ground shifts.
We still make plans.
We still find gifts.
Gmorning.

—Lin-Manuel Miranda, June 24, 2016, morning tweet

The world changes.
The earth spins.
We grieve our losses.
We eke out wins.
Gnight.

—Lin-manuel Miranda, June 24, 2016, evening tweet

In 1978 Walter Wangerin Jr. wrote The Book of the Dun Cow, a story about dark times during which a great evil arose. He chose to portray his protagonists as animals, centered around a coop of hens and their rooster, Chauntecleer. Chauntecleer was given a sort of priestly role over the animals, and part of his job as priest was to crow the “canonical crows,” based on the ancient church tradition of the canonical prayers, prayers prayed in certain ways at certain hours every day. The crows gave structure and encouragement to his creatures, and — though even Chauntecleer did not realize it — prepared them for the coming struggle against evil.

They told all the world … what time it was, and they blessed the moment in the ears of the hearer. By what blessing? By making the day, and that moment of the day, familiar; by giving it direction and meaning and a proper soul. For the creatures expected his canonical crows, and were put at peace when they heard them. “Yes, yes,” they would say, “the day is our day, because Chauntecleer has made it ours.” That they would say in the morning, grateful that by his crow the day should hold no strangeness nor fear for them.

Back in early 2016, when Barak Obama was still president and the original cast of Hamilton performed every week on Broadway, the show’s creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was tweeting occasional “gmorning” and “gnight” notes to his followers. Sometimes they were gifs or videos, sometimes pictures of his dog; sometimes they were relevant to his life or the show, and sometimes they were just whatever was on his mind. As the year progressed and times began to feel stranger and bleaker in America, Miranda’s tweets began to follow more of a structure: There’d be a morning tweet, then an evening tweet along the same lines — a reprise, to use the terminology of Miranda’s milieu, musical theatre.

Gmorning we'll get the hang of this yet
Feb. 26, 2016 morning tweet

Gnight gang we'll get the hang of this yet...
Feb. 26, 2016 evening tweet

Gmorning.
Pain, joy, frustration, euphoria, everything.
It all passes. It all keeps moving.
Wherever you are is temporary.
Let's go!

Oct. 20, 2016, morning tweet

Gnight.
Rage, bliss, fatigue, rapture, everything.
It all passes. It all keeps moving.
Wherever you are is fleeting.
Andiamo.

Oct. 20, 2016, evening tweet

Miranda excels at many things: Writing, composing songs, performing. But it is his ability to create community and camaraderie that most impresses me. Twitter can be a constant stream of righteous indignation, most of which is an entirely appropriate reaction to the injustices of our day. Miranda acknowledges injustice — and famously lashed out against the president for tweeting criticism of Puerto Rico’s mayor after the devastating hurricane in September 2017. But he also creates a place for us on Twitter where we can be comforted, encouraged, and empowered for the work before us. His tweets make us feel like we’re all in this together, that we are seen and loved unconditionally, that we have someone in our corner.

Gmorning.
Unclench your fists.
Lower your shoulders.
Step away.
Then come back with a clear head, redouble your efforts.
I believe in you.

Nov. 6, 2016, morning tweet

Gnight.
Unclench your fists.
Lower your shoulders.
Step away.
Come back with a clear head mañana, redouble your efforts.
I believe in you.

Nov. 6, 2016, evening tweet

I’ve struggled to express what his words mean to me. Is he like a big brother? A boyfriend? (But that’s awkward, because he’s married.) A coach? A friend I just don’t happen to know personally? A little of all of these? Then I remembered Chauntecleer, and what he was to his creatures: a steady voice. Someone who speaks the truth of who we are to us every day. Consistent, unconditional support and regard. Twitter is not a religious institution, and Miranda does not use religious language. But he speaks the way a priest would, using words almost liturgical in their cadence, giving a high priestly blessing every morning and every evening.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Miranda’s morning and evening tweets have become more consistent, more profound, and more encouraging as the political situation in America has become more dire. We need someone to keep us from despair, to call us back to ourselves and each other. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Miranda’s medium is Twitter. There is a prophetic energy there that I don’t find on other sites — courageous prophets who are willing to speak truth to power. We need them. But we need a priest there, too, to speak truth to those who feel powerless, to remind us that we are not.

I look for his tweets in the morning, and I put off going to bed until he tweets at night. It’s evening now, and I’ve had a hard day, and struggled with my work, and I’m waiting for today’s benediction. I’m waiting to be told what I already know I will be told, because it is part of the liturgy, and because it will be a reprise of this morning’s tweet. Still, I’m eager to read the words.

But the seventh was the kindest crow of all. This was as quiet as nightfall. This crow was the night at peace upon her nest. This was settle, and rest, and “You are safe,” and amen, and “Go, now, to sleep.” For “Done,” when it is well done, is a very good word. —Walter Wangerin Jr.

Gmorning.
How can I ease your mind in 140 characters?
I guess I can't.
But I ain't worried about you.
Everything but you.
You'll be fine.
Nov. 2, 2016, morning tweet

Gnight.
How can I ease your burdens in 140 characters?
I dunno.
But I'll continue to do my best.
You do the same.
We'll be fine.

Nov. 2, 2016, evening tweet

Jessica Kantrowitz is a writer and editor living in Boston. Her work has been published on Think Christian, the Our Bible App, and The Good Men Project, and shared widely throughout social media. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Twitter.

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