I have personally been led, maybe forced is a better word, to face and consider the reality of my own mortality and the mortality of those whom I love. With this placed at the forefront of my thinking today, let me share an insight from the wise shepherd Henri Nouwen. He writes: We all have dreams about the perfect life: a life without pain, sadness, conflict, or war. The spiritual challenge is to experience glimpses of this perfect life right in the middle of our many struggles. By embracing the reality of our mortal life, we can get in touch with the eternal life that has been sown there. The apostle Paul expresses this powerfully when he writes: “We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us; always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our … mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).