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Unknown Shadows

When I was young, we had a serial killer named "The Night Stalker" roaming through the neighborhoods of our county. Leaving our community terrified. He used to break into homes undetected, rape and kill, and sneak back out. Never seen coming. Never seen leaving. Like a thief in the night. A ghost. Invisible.

I was small, so my mother would tuck me in to my little bed, which laid under a window, that looked out to the side of the house. A side of the house we never used. Filled with over grown weeds and shadows that lurked in through the window. A part of the property that itself, was unknown to me. Anything could be out there. Anyone.

When I would get scared, my mother would tell me to pray. It never made sense in my young mind. What the hell was praying going to do when a murderer was sneaking into my room? When no one could hear or see him coming? As I lie defenseless. Without a chance in the world against his adult strength. Against his anger. Against his scary, insatiable need. Yet, knowing, understanding on some level, it was out of my hands. No one could help. Whatever was going to happen would happen whether I was ready or not.

"Sometimes all you can do is pray."

Her words have stuck with me through all these years. Her words resonated, although so did the feeling of them not being enough. However, I now find myself in a familiar state. Once again, in the unknown. In the uncertainty. Feeling powerless.

Instead of a murderer, it's now a virus, a pandemic, a pathogen that once more, no one can see or hear coming. A microbe that not only illuminates the risk within my own walls but also magnifies the fractures and cracks within our society. Exposing our defective truth, everything that is systematically broken rising to the surface for everyone to see. Exposing everything that used to be hidden. The state of our nation, the lack of leadership, the denial of science, our fragile economy, the vast difference between the haves and have nots, the poverty, the lack of empathy, death.

A virus which is still hiding it's ominous truth. Like a mischievous puzzle we have yet to figure out. Not yet exposing all it's haphazard potential. As it reeks havoc on our businesses, mental stability, health, power and lives. Bringing to light the true absence of unity we proudly, previously used to claim. Like a shadow lurking outside our window.

Once again, I find myself scared. Wanting to ask for help. For guidance. Once again, no one can. It is something we are all facing while the division seems to only grow.

I hear the echo of my mother's words, "Pray. Sometimes it's all you can do."

While I see her truth in that, it somehow still doesn't feel like enough. As the numbers continue to increase as this invisible germ mutates, as it strengthens, at the same rate as our denial. The denial that blankets our country like a cheap see through band aid. Giving little protection, and little ability to breathe. Only incubating the already lit atmosphere, causing the cracks to deepen and spread as quickly as the contagion.

Half of us adhering to guidelines while others refuse. Half of us curious, while half rejects its authenticity. As we dispute and debate over masks versus liberty. Health versus economy. Science versus faith. Spread versus shutdown. Blue versus Red. Unity versus divide. All noise. All darkness. All shadows.

Wondering how long this will go on? How much we can take? What will be left? What will survive? As people lose their businesses, their jobs, their loved ones, their homes, their lives. As countries close their borders due to our inability to handle this microscopic bomb. Will we survive or like Rome, will we burn?

Or will we mutate along with it? Are we able? Are we capable to exist in the pause. With no more distraction. Listen to what is needed. As uncharted as that seems, I question if we could. If there is a light amid the shadows. If we don't go back to how things were but instead create something different. Something better. Within the chaos, the noise, the delusion, in the greenhouse, do we have the ability to grow? To change. To alter like a virus. Looking back on this moment in history not as an infection, but instead as a cure. Can we shift our view and merge. Unify. Become the United States for the first time. Can we come together. Heal. Recover. United.

All still unanswered questions. All the unknown. All shadows lurking outside my window as I await the outcome that no one can foresee. Both the potential and the demise lingering. Both possible. Anything can be out there. Anything can happen.

Again, I find myself absorbed by the uncertainty. Back in the unknown. Feeling powerless. Stuck between a deep sadness and an empty hope. Yet, knowing, accepting it is all out of my hands. Whatever will happen will happen whether I am ready or not. I hear the echo of my mother's words. I close my eyes. Inhale deeply. And I pray. Because sometimes, that is all I can do.

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Expressing helplessness and the fear that accompanies it and reaching deep in memory for a practice to ease and comfort - you call out feelings many people feel but don’t or can’t articulate. Your writing of it again illustrates the tension between two basic life forces - of fear and of comfort.


Josie L James
Josie L James

Thank you Lisa and Moradragon! I appreciate your words deeply. 🧡💛


JoJo, all your stories are so beautifully written and so very interesting and inspiring. One is left with so much to ponder on. I also love the pictures that you choose to accompany them.

Fabulous, fabulous work!



Such a commentary on life and times, Jojo. History repeating itself, seeing the bigger context containing personal experience. Making sense and still wondering...

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