The men are bent over books and swaying, their soft murmuring filling the uneasy silence. Long white shawls cover their faces and whirl about as they sway; back and forth, back and forth, like tall wheat stalks waving in the wind. The chant, now more audible, seems to absorb the swaying men; they appear transported, as though they are not really here, as though I am alone not just in my heart, but also in this room.

I wander along the pews of the synagogue, wary of its strange rhythm. The tall bookshelves glare at me, dwarfing the room about me, and I feel even smaller.

There is a song in my heart, but I don’t know how to sing it.

I walk slowly to the back of the synagogue and turn to face the front, where the holy Ark stands tall and magnificent. Instinct lifts my hands, but my fingers close in disappointment: I can’t reach it; it is too far.

There is a song in my heart, but I don’t know how to sing it.

There is a prayer in my eyes, if You could only see it.

The chanting now mixes with the stale air, a thin film of dust swimming in the dim light. The synagogue grows eerie. I try to understand the words of the swaying men, but I have never heard their language.

I lift my eyes toward the windows of the synagogue, looking for heaven, looking for You. Afternoon clouds drift in the distance, and the sunshine splashes against my face; I know You can hear me. I am different from the swaying men, but not any different than how You created me. I cannot read the holy books, and cannot sing their songs, but I have my own song, and I will sing it for You.

The song in my heart begins to sing, and my voice surrenders to its calling. I may be different from my fellow man, but that is how I connect with you; in my own way I sing to You, like no one else can, like only I can.

I am singing now, whistling the only tune I know. It is all I have, dear G‑d, but it is for You. My body is swaying, as a tiny flame hopping about a fire. My soul is dancing, and I dance along with it—me, wrapped in my shepherd’s caftan, me, just a small shepherd boy.

I am no longer alone; I can hear You in my harmony.

I am the shepherd boy, praying among the swaying men.

This article is a creative interpretation of this story.