Dear Sukkah

Dear Sukkah,

As I look at your boards I feel a very deep connection. Although I have built your walls many times over the years, I’ve never felt this before. I usually need to disconnect, as most holidays are heavily triggering for me, yet this year, it was as though there was a silent cry coming from your heart, piercing into mine.

There are those of us that live in a home. Their childhood and upbringing laid the foundation for a life filled with basic inner peace and self esteem. They feel protected and loved in their own skin and although there are those occasional repairs needed in their “home”, they still feel strong as a whole.

At the same time, there are those of us, that lacked that safety and stability in our childhood years. We never felt safe at home or in our own self. We didn’t have that solid foundation. The walls of our inner home didn’t exist and many of us were robbed of our dignity and privacy as a result. We lived a childhood filled with pain, fear and secrecy.

Dear sukkah,

Your walls, remind me of my life. Of my childhood and present life-fighting through the enormous challenges of complex PTSD. Although you provide some sense of shelter, the air still blows through the holes in the walls and the rain still falls through the roof.

However, despite your limited capabilities, you still stand tall and strong. Your walls are decorated so beautifully. There’s something you offer that a fully furnished house doesn’t. There’s something unique about you. Something special and so admirable, that despite your walls so shaky, you have made it through the many thousands of years. Through generations of war and horror.

While decorating your walls today, I felt as though I was decorating myself. I have lived through so much. Endured so much pain. I’ve wanted to give it all up so many times. I’ve suffered and continue to suffer with so much emotional and physical pain, yet I’m still here. Still standing.

Honestly, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel like celebrating but then I look at your walls. You have many cracks in them which allow the wind to blow through. You have spaces in the ceiling which let the rain go through. You are not perfect. Not complete. Not as strong as a home, but nevertheless still so beautifully decorated.

I know I have many cracks in me. Many layers of trauma still needing to be worked through. Lots of damage from my past, but I will still attempt to feel decorated and proud and although I don’t feel it, I know I don’t need to be perfect to celebrate.

Secondly, the meaning behind your walls, is to commemorate when we were leaving Egypt and stuck in the desert for many years. You surrounded us with a shelter and protected us from the many enemies we were facing.

Leaving Egypt, we were not pure at all. We have sinned and sunk to very low levels, yet that didn’t stop God from surrounding us with His loving embrace.

All throughout the years in the desert, even after we have sinned, God kept His Protection around us. God’s love to us was stronger than our sins and He therefore never let us go.

Walking into your sukkah walls, I will try to feel as though I’m walking into God’s loving embrace. I don’t feel great about myself. I have many layers of guilt and shame, yet I know and believe that God still loves me just like He loved and embraced His nation so many years ago despite their flaws or perhaps even because of their flaws.

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