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The Best Way to Spread Cheer: Singing Loudly for All to Hear

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Another Sunday at mass with the family and everyone is going through the normal routine. Try as I may to concentrate, other thoughts surface in my mind and distract me. Then the sound of voices singing in harmony breaks my daze as we all rise and sing together. However, I begin to distinguish this one voice from all the rest, growing ever louder with each new note. I turn to locate the source and spot a balding old man sitting in his wheelchair in the back of the Church by himself.

Though others are around him, I can eliminate the possibility that they are his family or friends by the questioning glances they throw in his direction. The man was either oblivious to the fact that others were paying any attention to him, or he did not care because he continued to gaze at the altar, belting out the rest of the song. While others may have been annoyed by this old man’s attempt to join with choir’s melody, I smiled to myself and turned back around, listening to his voice carry across the Church.

This man demonstrated complete comfort in being himself and a lack of fear of others’ judgment. While some spend at least half an hour selecting an outfit and applying beautifying products to enhance their appearances, the old man just came as he was: in a subtle beige shirt, dark shorts, and his wheelchair. He would give a friendly glance to those passing by him, but never with a critical eye or scrutinizing stare. And every time a song began, he would chime in with the choir, although always a few words behind and off-key. He was satisfied with his singing though, and his nonchalance about others’ evaluation of his joy made him a source of admiration to me. Though his singing voice may have been out of tune and his clothing just average, he came to mass and sang boisterously out of tune to fulfill his own joyful desires: Who cares what everyone else thinks?

Mass is about to end, and the priest is saying the closing prayer. Then the choir director signals the pianist to begin the last song as the choir’s voices unite in harmony. I wait a few beats and the familiar off-key voice joins the choir, saying the words a few seconds later than everyone else. I laugh to myself and turn to leave the Church, singing some of the hymn with the old man as I went.





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