"What an astonishing world we live in! Although it is full of pain, anxiety, trauma, insecurity, and instability, at the same time it is filled with surprises, great moments, wonder, joy, and healing. Just when we think that the challenges of the universe are extremely difficult for us, that there is just too much suffering and confusion, that what we face is almost impossible to bear, we unexpectedly meet up with an act of kindness, something miraculous that takes our breath away, a caring community full of courage.

"Certainly, when we think about all the problems and difficulties in today's world — poverty, discrimination, injustice, hatred, terrorism, war, uncertainty — we can feel absolutely overwhelmed and feel that life is almost without hope. Unquestionably, the tragedies of 9/11 in the United States or the thirty years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland seemed like they could not have been worse. Huge numbers of people and communities have been deeply wounded and affected by these enormous catastrophes.

"Yet, as the powerful stories of these journeys of courage have shown, adversity and tribulation can also serve in positive ways. They have the potential to help us find deeper meaning in our being, to transform our lives of mediocrity and apathy to lives of passion and caring, to discover some wonderful unexpected gifts of wisdom and service within ourselves and our communities, even to catapult us into newfound roles of bravery and courage."