“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
—Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-American Writer

I remember a time.

It was a hot summer day.

My son and I had just gotten out of the car at our local county fair. The smell of cotton candy and hot dogs wafted across the parking lot.

Kids older than my son—but still pre-teen in tank tops and ripped jean shorts—ran raggedly past us in packs, yelling and laughing.

I gripped his hand, steering him towards the entrance.

Someone must have grabbed my shoulder to say hello, or innocently bumped into my path—I don’t remember—but that is when Noah and I got separated.

I turned my attention to him, but only felt emptiness in my hand.

And he was gone.

I remember this agonizing terror. Franticly spinning my head in all directions, stuck in place.

Then wildly running toward where he might be.

Maybe it was 30 seconds. Or a bit more. It seemed like an hour.

And then I spotted his superhero shirt that we had picked out that morning.

I ran to him. He had a frantic look in his eyes, too.

We hugged. My heart in my throat. I looked at him.

He was paralyzed with fear.

I thought about that moment this past week. I was looking at a composite photo of the young children who had been taken hostage to Gaza after the horrific, dark massacre on October 7th.

What could one young child … 4 or 5 years old … possibly be feeling?

Who is taking care of him?

Who is holding his hand?

All alone in a tunnel deep under the earth.

For weeks, I’ve struggled to find words to articulate my feelings about the October 7th massacre.

I’m certain that, in ways both significant and subtle, these weeks have left their mark on you, too.

Worries about friends caught in the web of war, concerns for the loss of all innocent lives yet to come, and anxieties about the growing global implications—it’s a heavy burden.

In times like these, it’s also easy for our hearts to harden around our own stories or political beliefs.

But remember, you are part of a community of people who continually confront the challenge that courage presents us. And that challenge feels more profound than ever.

The photo of the children haunted me.

But the photo below is the one that has energized me.

It was shared by writer Sarah Tuttle-Singer, and the caption she penned read:

“This is a picture from Israel today—the bride and groom had planned a different sort of wedding, but both got called up and need to serve, so they marry in uniform. When given the option, we always choose life. Even when it’s not as we expected, we embrace it. We don’t wait …. If a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet at a crossroads, the funeral procession makes way for the wedding profession. Because life always comes first. We choose life.”

I happen to be Jewish. Proudly so.

And I hope that—whatever your faith, ancestry, heritage, or tradition is – that you feel real, honest pride in it as well.

This isn’t a piece about my faith.

Or yours.

It is about having the courage to have hope in the darkest hours AND take action when we feel the most immobilized.
So, this week, find your courage.

The courage to speak your truth.

The courage to hold awful, terrifying feelings in your heart and not shy away.

The courage to right a wrong, take a risk.

The courage to listen. To learn.

The courage to get to know one person who feels differently than you.

When a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet at a crossroads, the funeral procession makes way.

Have hope.

Take action.

Scott Simon will speak on “Courage Amidst Chaos: Finding Our Bravest Selves in Tumultuous Times” on Tuesday, December 12, at 12:00 pm ET, as part of the WBI/JCC Manhattan Positive Psychology Hour. Drawing from the field of positive psychology and from Jewish values and character strengths, Scott will offer insightful tools and micro-practices for fostering resilience, hope, empowerment, and optimism during our darkest days. Register here.

Scott Simon, CiWPP graduate, is an author, speaker, happiness entrepreneur, and founder of Scare Your Soul, a movement inspiring individual and global change through small acts of courage. Scott has worked with companies and individuals around the world, been featured on TV and podcasts, given a TEDx Talk on happiness, and brought his passion for courage to retreats, a coaching practice, and mindfulness meditations. He is a contributor to Psychology Today, has been profiled in Fast Company Magazine, and was recently invited to address staff at the United Nations Global Compact. His book, published by Hachette, is Scare Your Soul: 7 Powerful Principles to Harness Fear and Lead Your Most Courageous Life.