To the year that took and gave,
To the year that wept and rejoiced,
That darkened shadows and shed light—
It may seem odd—even radical—to thank you.
You who isolated us from one another,
You who took life,
You who burned down forests,
You who made us wonder if there could be peace in such a broken time.
You showed us something
Like a quiet song perched somewhere deep in our very souls
A desire so powerful that the absence of it
made us cry, made us scream, made us march
A desire to continue
A desire to survive
And dare to ask for more than just that.
We’re not as different from one another as we’ve been told.
There’s some shared thread of humanity which runs through each of our tapestries.
We could tap into that thread to find growth, progress, love.
There’s a flower that grows
Somewhere in southern California
Whose seeds can only be awoken through the ash of wildfire
Whose growth can only begin after the desolation
Whose becoming is rooted in tragedy.
You were our wildfire
Opening us up to the understanding that we desire to be more
To be better
To be closer
To be kinder
To be awake.
So with a radical gratitude, we will thank you.
Thank you for the breaking and bending that led us here.
We could not know how desperately we need water if not for your quenching drought.
Thank you for showing us the spring within us all.
Thank you for the fire
Whose embers will keep our desire to grow warm
Whose ashes will be kept in mausoleum and museum halls
So one day we can look back and say—
That was what it meant to be hungry
I am so grateful to be full.
Image via Chloe Nostrant