Monday, December 17, 2007

The Singing Man

I had trouble falling asleep last night. A lovely afternoon nap is partly to blame. I don't do well with long naps. But just as I was about to finally drift off, the singing came.

I couldn't make sense of what I was hearing at first. I thought maybe someone was sitting in a car with the music turned up, but I hadn't heard a car approach and couldn't detect the hum of an idling engine. Plus, the song was inconsistent, sometimes softer, sometimes louder, sometimes stopping altogether--and it didn't sound very radio-ish. Curiosity got the best of me and I got up to look out the window.

An old man on a bicycle was stopped on the sidewalk in front of the high school, staring at the huge lighted Christmas tree on the lawn. He was bundled against the cold in a heavy wool coat and red and black plaid cap with ear flaps. His head was tipped back and he was singing Christmas carols. The First Noel. Joy to the World. His deep voice wandered off key occasionally and sometimes stopped in the middle of a line only to pick up again a few words later.

I assumed he was drunk at first, and chuckled at the funny sight. But then he climbed back up on the seat of his bicycle and rode away. In a perfectly straight line. I watched the blinking tail light disappear as he rode slowly down the street.

I climbed back under the covers, but was suddenly wide awake, my mind fully engaged as I pondered what I had seen. Who was this singing man? Why had he ridden his bicycle at midnight in the cold to come and sing, alone, at the foot of the school Christmas tree? Why?

Ten minutes later, he was back. I could hear the singing again from the same place, the same voice. I didn't get up this time, but I wondered at it all. And I prayed for the singing man.

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