Inspired to Forgive
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint
against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord
has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
I remember the first time I visited a women’s prison.
Members of a local congregation in Salta, Argentina, went to this
prison regularly, and they invited me to join them as the celebrant for a Communion service with the women. The prison was
unlike those I was familiar with in the United States. This one was
more like a large house with guards and security at the entrance.
The women interacted freely, washing their clothes and hanging
them in the yard to dry, raising their children, and helping one
another with other daily chores. It was almost as if they were a
family — guards and inmates alike. As with any family, strong
emotions often arose in the intimate environment. If you were
getting along with the other inmates and the guards, life was
good; if you weren’t, life could be miserable.
After celebrating Communion, an inmate named Ana told
me about a particular meditation from El Aposento Alto that had
affected her. The meditation described how the guards in a men’s
prison asked a pastor to have a Communion service for both the
guards and the inmates. The guards expressed a desire to overcome any animosity that either they or the inmates had for each
other. The story inspired Ana, and it led her to forgive one of the
guards and build a friendship with her. Ana asked me if I would
sign a copy of El Aposento Alto as a gift to the guard.
Thinking about my conversation with Ana, I realized that
this is what Communion is about: forgiveness, renewal, and
love. For me, this story represents the power of The Upper Room:
Christians across the world learning from and
supporting one another in their journeys of
faith. My prayer is for each of us to find in the
pages of this magazine the encouragement to
forgive and to love as Ana did.
— Colossians 3: 13 (NRSV)
El Aposento Alto