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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.

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The starkness of the cavernous galleries, jutting out in angles, laid out on three levels, connected by an expansive staircase, silences me. On gray-white walls hang the exhibit, In the Still Epiphany, hosted by The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri. I finger the program, adjust my glasses, meander among the disparate art forms dating from 2000 BCE to the present, careful not to violate the three-foot rule. Somber-faced guards stand at attention. Hushed talk from serious connoisseurs suggests rapprochement with this world.

My unease deepens. Again, I study my program. I search for clues from the artfully conceived narrative by Gedi Sibony, the curator. Nothing.

I leave, perplexed, a void exposing my innards to no-where-land.

Admittedly, the exhibit’s title, In the Still Epiphany, had fired me to experience how other artists, from all over the world, had grappled with the Sacred, had given expression to the inexpressible. Perhaps they would enlarge my sense of the Holy.

Days pass. The experience of the exhibit still rankles. It demands a response.

Imperceptibly, it comes. It’s all about the soul’s inner landscape, its readiness to participate in the Void. I had been touched, and deeply, but not consoled. Perhaps I had been seeking the Garden of Eden.

A recent clip from Egypt’s Tahir Square showed a young woman, dragged by soldiers, her shirt torn apart revealing full breasts cupped by a green bra. Another soldier raised his boot and stomped on her chest.  Still another – perhaps, an angel in this mayhem – tossed a black shawl over her and ran off. Then the camera jostled toward the skyline, thick with acrid smoke. It was over.

Who was this woman? A student? An intellectual sickened by the ruse of the April spring? A mother? A girlfriend? Why this desecration of the Sacred by Evil in camouflage?

Should she survive this brutality and tell her story, we will stand strong with her.

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