In a religious community, one does not choose one’s companions. Of all the sacrifices, for me that one had the most excruciating impact on daily life. . . . The shortest path to a human connection is to draw someone aside and to distinguish the two of us as superior to others. If we avoid gossip and backbiting, especially when aided by a communal commitment to do so, we are cut off from this costly shortcut. One can only travel the long way into the heart of another: the slow work of finding common ground, the careful discernment of grounds for admiration, the disciplines of kindness, encouragement, silence, and restraint.

It takes a deliberate choice, renewed regularly, to love every human being one encounters