Revelations by Madeline Pierce - Photo by Zoe Oppenheimer_Revelations

Surrounded in light, I wonder if it is holy or not. I was raised with the expectation of a hand lifting my chin to the heavens, compelling me to look my creator in the eye and admit the holiness of light. As I look up, I meet no set of eyes, only gray clouds shrouding my mind in more questioning. For generations, the people of my faith had been scholars, gifted with freedom of thought and questioning by our God. But the exploration of my thought is chained by the bimah, and my mind’s library is written in prayer. For who am I if not my love of God, for who am I without my community, for who am I without my faith? The chains on prisoners’ ankles never stopped them from looking out the window, curious about a world without confines. Who am I without my faith? Will I be judged without my every move appealing to the heavens?

There is no time for too much questioning, for the service has begun. Prayers and dance entice me into getting drunk on the security of my faith. Faster and faster, the dances intensify and the chants only get louder. My sinful thoughts muddle in the wake of intoxication. Once again, I raise my head up to the heavens, and I meet no eyes. But the rabbi besides me drowns me in Torah, burying me from reaching the destination of potential truth. I see eyes inscribed on the paper, but not in the heavens as told. In my drunken state, the two blend into one truth. There are no eyes preying on me from the heavens. The sky is clear now, no more gray blocking them. Look past the scorching sun, and an observation tells me that no matter how clear the sky may be, I will never see those eyes I have been searching for.

While there may be no eyes, there is the body of the community. The heart beats with the love of our survival. For while I now know there may be no God, there is the worship of our order throughout the chaos which has followed us for a millenium. I do not turn my eyes back up to the heavens, rather toward the people surrounding me. I see them wrap tallitot around their shoulders, crying out for God to open his eyes so they may finally reach the elusive truth that has plagued us all with questioning. But now I know mine. My thoughts have been free, but I still stay with my community. For who am I without my faith?

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Madeline Pierce is a member of the class of 2024 at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado. She is involved in debate, track and field, and BBYO. Madeline is passionate about history and politics, and in her spare time she hikes and bakes.
Accompanying photo: “Simchat Torah Torahs” by Zoe Oppenheimer