A toddler howls, her mouth crooked with rage. Savage tears press through wild eyes, her short curls in tangles. Her outstretched fingers demand holding – from anyone.

I gasp. Before me is a pencil sketch, 8 x11 inches, displayed at the Spring Art Fare held at St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Louis, Missouri.

Distress seizes me. Abandonment, isolation, and despair roil in my gut. I, too, want to scream, but that would be unseemly. Besides others want to see this sketch. I move on, the toddler’s silent scream still echoing my own.

Days pass. Still haunted by that image, I begin hearing silent screams all about me – customers waiting in checkout lines, motorists jammed on the Interstates, patients lounging upon benches in emergency rooms, neighbors gawking at house fires, youngsters on playgrounds, mothers holding their stillborns, executives laid off from work, mourners hovering over graves, Marines cleaning their guns.  The silent screams are everywhere. How placate them? Accept the unacceptable? How assuage the pain? Restore joy?

Seek God within our souls, whose power transmutes our silent screams into watered gardens, as the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “… they will sorrow no more.” (Ch. 31: 12) – that is, until the next upheaval, and in its wake, deeper wisdom and conversion of life.