The Scream by Edvard MunchEdvard Munch, the artist who painted "The Scream" in 1893, could not have imagined that his most famous work of art would fetch $119.9 million at Sotheby's in 2012. Although this is an interesting news story, we are more taken with Munch's confession that the idea for the painting came to him while on a walk at sunset with friends. He wandered behind them "shiverring with fear" and then "I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature." In these perilous times we are assaulted by many different screams that demand our attention and spiritual action.

And so we pray this news . . .

A Prayer in Response to the Screams
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

It is only natural that
we should try to close out
or to avoid altogether
the screams of others.

Yet wherever we go there
are little screams that
irritate our ears and
upset our concentration:
the screaming of a
baby on the airplane
or a couple yelling at
each other on the street.

Dear Lord, we know all of
these screams for they
have come from our own
throats and mouths at
one time or another.
Keep us from the panic
and the pain that draws
them out of us.

Other screams are more
ugly and depressing:
the screams of a person
whose life is threatened;
the screams of a woman
being raped or a child
being sexually abused;
the screams of street people
in the night;
the screams of drug addicts
without a fix;
the screams of hospital patients
crying out in pain;
the screams of mental patients
in isolated wards;
the screams of older people
lonely in nursing homes;
the screams of prisoners
being tortured;
the screams of solders
wounded in war or reliving
the nightmares of combat.

May we take to heart the
screams of all these souls
and vow to never turn away
from their genuine suffering,
pain, loss, and frustration.

It is our habit of only caring
for those closest to us
that enables the screaming
to keep on multiplying.
We rarely hear the screams
of pigs and chickens and cows
as they suffer confinement and
certain death on factory farms.
We are oblivious to the screams
of mice and monkeys and
rabbits being experimented
upon in laboratories.
We put out of our minds
the cries of mistreated and
abandoned dogs and cats
facing death at pounds.

We are so thankful to Native
Americans and other indigenous
peoples for reminding us of the
large role we have all played
in causing the screams of Mother
Earth who has been ravaged and
savaged in our quest for progress.
Now we can hear the cries of
trees as they fall to the ground;
the screams of mountains
being bombed and mined;
the wailing of ponds and rivers
and oceans that we have poisoned;
and the laments of the air that
we have polluted.

Lord, help us to recall
the screams in our own lives
so that we can use them
as a bridge to connect us
with the screams of others.
Let us never be ashamed of
our cries nor embarrassed
by our tears.

Dear Lord, give us the
empathy and the compassion
to do what we can for those
who are screaming.
Make us fearless in the face
of so much agony.

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