One evening many years ago I was having dinner by myself in the rectory where I lived in Chicago. All the other priests were out. Amelia, our cook still came in that night. She fixed me a wonderful supper and put it on the table in the dining room. I had had a very busy, frustrating day. I needed to catch my breath, eat quickly and then rush out to appointments.
Amelia was well into her 70’s and had never married. She spent most of her adult life working in rectories and caring for priests. She was lonely and loved to talk. That night she particularly wanted to talk to me in the dining room.
For my part, I had already heard enough problems for one day. So after she returned to the dining room for the third time to ramble on about something, I said to her, “Amelia, would you please shut up!” She bolted out of the living room, through the kitchen, and into her room, slamming her door.
When I got up to my room, my phone was buzzing. I picked it up, fearful of what I would hear. “You hurt me!” said Amelia’s weak voice. “I beg your pardon,” I said. “You hurt me!” she said again.
There was a lengthy pause. “Yes, Amelia, I hurt you.” I responded. “Are you sorry?” she asked. There was another lengthy pause. “Yes, Amelia, I’m sorry.”
“Do you mean it, or are you just saying that?” There was then a much longer pause so I could think about it. Finally, I responded, “Yes, Amelia, I’m truly sorry I hurt you.”
“Well I forgive you!” and Amelia hung up the phone.
It takes a strong person to say sorry….and an even stronger person to forgive.