The Hallelujah Chorus

When the young woman finds the old composer, the man is crying. The tears fall softly, though, and he does not whimper. He makes almost no noise at all. That’s why the woman has come for him, in fact. She’d been shouting to him with no response for nearly a quarter of an hour. And now, now that she sees he is alive and not slumped over his piano dead, it takes her a moment to cut through the thicket of her annoyance and ask, “What’s wrong?”

The old composer holds up the score he has been working on. It is stained with his tears. He mumbles, she asks him to repeat himself, and then he says clearly, “I thought I saw the face of God.”

A smile breaks over his wrinkled face. His arthritic knees snap, crackle, and pop as he rises to embrace her, as he shouts “Hallelujah!” again and again.

Years from now, a descendant of hers—the last rotten fruit of a forgotten branch of her once illustrious family tree—will claim he sees Jesus’ face in piece of toast. His pals at the bar will laugh at him and buy him another PBR, but he will not drink it. He is a changed man, he will tell them. And they will laugh again. But he will not drink from that day forward, and though his liver will be too cancerous to save by that point, he will begin a crusade of sorts.

They will lump him in with the family who saw the Virgin Mary burned into their wall after a house fire that could’ve—but didn’t—devour their children. They will lump him in with the lunatics who find the son of God in the patterns of a moth’s wings or the clouds in the sky. And he will not mind.

In his last days, in his last breaths, he will say, ‘Who are they to tell me where I did or didn’t see Him? The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord.’

‘Hallelujah,’ he will say. ‘Hallelujah.’

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