“I was never angry with you. I was sad, because I thought you’d lost your way.”
– Uncle Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender
Season 3, Episode 59, “Sozin’s Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters”
It’s one of the more emotional moments in the story, when Zuko reunites with his beloved Uncle Iroh. Zuko is… well, he made some serious mistakes along the way, even turning against his uncle, so he has some understandable trepidation about this reunion. But Zuko barely manages to get his apology out before Uncle Iroh grasps him in a fierce, loving hug. Overcome by emotion, Zuko is bewildered at how quickly, how easily, his uncle is able to forgive his trespasses. But Iroh was never angry, as he says, and now he is proud of his nephew, who has found his way again, restored his honor himself, and rejoined the right side.
I have had reason to contemplate forgiveness lately, and what happens if/when two parts of a soured relationship eventually reunite.
In particular, without going into details, I have recently had to end a friendship that once was very positive, but had slowly turned into something very negative. It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. So, perhaps I’m just being a little stubbornly hopeful when I think about a future where we might meet again. Maybe I just want to remember what I feel right now – not angry for any slights from my friend, more sorrowful for who my friend used to be, and who they have become – so that if we meet again, I might be able to offer, and ask for, forgiveness, with a clarity of mind and heart.
I suppose I think about what Iroh says here because of what it means to forgive. It means to let go of one’s grudges, one’s anger of what has been done. It means to be honest about what one truly feels (such as being more sad than angry), and why (because we actually care about them). It means to allow someone else to make a mistake, as we all do, and to come back in peace. It means to love them more than our own pride.
I hope I can do that, if the time ever comes for it.