On Reconciliation

The following story was shared with me by Rabbi David Wolpe:

A Hasidic parable tells of a king who quarreled with his son. In a fit of rage, the king exiled his son from the kingdom. Years passed, and the son wandered alone through the world. In time, the king's heart softened, so he sent his ministers to find his son and ask him to return. When they located the young man, he said that he could not return to the kingdom. He had been too hurt, and his heart still harbored bitterness. The ministers brought back the sad news to the king. The king told them to bring his son the following message: "Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you."

Reconciliation is hard. Sometimes the need for reconciliation comes from a huge fight, like the one between the king and his son. Other times the need for repair between people can be the result of a smaller scale conflict, like a dispute between friends or spouses. 
 
No matter what the instance of the strife, in every fight, we are both the king and the son. We need to be able to own our hurt, like the son, while also being malleable enough to meet the other where they are in their journey, like the king.

The key here, as in so many things in Jewish life, is to have a soft heart. When we harden our heart, like Pharaoh did with Moses and the Israelites, we prevent any possibility of things getting better. It is only with a soft, malleable, heart that we can ever hope for repair.