During periods of unrest and uncertainty, when ominous dark clouds roll in and the sky becomes black, it can be easy to give in to feelings of despair. Maybe you receive a life-altering diagnosis, a loved one passes away, or the weight of circumstances in the world feels so heavy, it drags you down. This issue contains stories of adversity but it also offers hope.

Our featured essay, “Between Rooms,” gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of a father and husband who feels helpless and hopeless after sustaining a spinal cord injury. From his wheelchair, between rooms in his house, he watches life happening around him but his ability to engage is limited to eye blinks. He questions whether a life like this is worth living. The journey N. T. McQueen writes about is a dark and difficult one, but well worth it.

Author Melissa Murakami has written a touching story about a young boy with autism who believes he is a bear cub and wears a fuzzy brown hoodie with two round ears on the hood to make it evident to everyone. “Mother Bear” reveals the exhaustion, patience, and overwhelming love a young mother has for her child.

“Nacre Upon Nacre” is a beautifully-written, poignant essay drawing comparisons between the grit that creates a pearl and pain that transforms her life. Jenna Pashley Smith shares her personal struggle and the ways that she has found strength and peace.

In addition to these three, this issue contains an array of thought-provoking poetry and other wonderful stories of fiction and nonfiction. Issue 81 brings the promise that storm clouds will dissipate and the sun will shine again. A season of hope is on the horizon.

Read issue 81 of Kaleidoscope here!