Rabbi David Wolpe offers some reflections on the perspective of life that he has gained from being a rabbi — but I think what he says here could have been written by a priest, deacon or minister, too:

After 26 years in the rabbinate, as I approach retirement, I have come to several realizations. All of us are wounded and broken in one way or another; those who do not recognize it in themselves or in others are more likely to cause damage than those who realize and try to rise through the brokenness.

This is what binds together a faith community. No religious tradition, certainly not my own, looks at an individual and says: “There. You are perfect.” It is humility and sadness and striving that raises us, doing good that proves the tractability of the world and its openness to improvement, and faith that allows us to continue through the shared valleys.

I have had a privileged view of the human condition, and the essential place of religion on that hard road. Sometimes it seems, for those outside of faith communities, that religion is simply about a set of beliefs to which one assents. But I know that from the inside it is about relationships and shared vision. Where else do people sing together week after week? Where else does the past come alive to remind us how much has been learned before the sliver of time we are granted in this world?

I know the percentage of those who not only call themselves religious but also find themselves in religious communities declines each year. The cost of this ebbing of social cohesion is multifaceted. At the most basic, it tears away at the social fabric. Many charities rely solely on religious institutions. People in churches and synagogues and mosques reliably contribute more to charities — religious and nonreligious — than their secular counterparts do…

Keeping a congregation together has never been easy, and mine has become increasingly politically divided in an ever more polarizing era. Two practices have enabled us to stay together. Over the years I have encouraged people to learn about each other’s lives before they explore each other’s politics. When you share the struggles of raising children and navigating life, when you attend meetings and pack lunches together, when you are on the same softball team and sit near each other in synagogue, you don’t start each conversation with how the other party’s candidate is a scoundrel.

The second is listening. We, who do not know ourselves, believe we understand others. We must always be reminded that each person is a world, and that the caricatures we see of others on social media and in the news are just that — a small slice of the vastness within each human being.

Read it all.