A post-Dorian Bahamas

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to express some thoughts on our recent Dorian experience.

I wish not to spiritualize this situation, especially since it is so easy to be a “spiritual arm-chair quarterback”.

My condolences and prayers are for the bereaved, grieving families as they try to cope with this tragedy.

May I begin with a familiar Scripture? “And there arose a new pharaoh who knew not Joseph.”

The question I propose to my country is: “Has there arose a new God who knows not The Bahamas?” Or perhaps, better still, “Has there arose a new postmodern Bahamas that does not know God?”

The Abaconian lady repeated the time-worn refrain — “I would not wish this on anybody.”

The implication also being, not even on my enemies. That said, why would our loving God, friend, savior allow this on us? Are we worse than His worst enemy? Are we no longer His friends, His favorites (not that He has, but you get the point right?), no longer on the good side of His mercy?

But I offer another question: When the angel visited Gideon with accolades, Gideon proposed the question — “If God is with us, where be all the miracles, the miracles that our forefathers told us about?”

I ask If God is with us, where be all the religious clerics, the mighty men and women of God (myself included)?

Before God’s wrath was poured out on Sodom, He chided Abraham: “Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I proposed to do to Sodom?” Where are we relationally with God that apparently none was close enough to access God’s heart for the salvational preparation of the nation?

Were there only two or three prophets/prophetess who heard from God? Who God told, “I will walk through Abaco, even through the mud…?”

Please don’t get defensive, just reflective.

Have we not endeared ourselves to the heart of God like Abraham? God visited Abraham, shared with him the secret counsel of His heart, even invited Abraham privilege to thwart His plans.

Are we not that close as a people, as a band of clergymen “a friend of God” or, like Elisha’s commentary on the widow’s dead son, could it be that despite our closeness to God’s heart that God just simply “hid the thing from us” (2 King 4:27)? Our reflections might help us to discover which “side of the relationship with God fence” we are on.

My heart grieves for those who passed, for their families. My pride is also broken. In the USA I always boasted of how we have weathered so many storms for decades with so minimal lives lost.

But Dorian came, seemingly to avenge years of past “little to no lives lost”.

May I also ask: is there a new breed of hurricanes that know not the more harmless hurricanes of the past; hurricanes who have never left such deadly destruction in its path, hurricanes who have had some respect for this great nation?

Let us now take a philosophical yet practical look at this travesty.

The word “dorea” in Greek means gift.

It can safely be assumed (I wonder) that Dorian is but an English derivative. If so, then perhaps Dorian might, just might be, ironically a “gift” to The Bahamas.

Please note, that given the tremendous loss of lives, I do not offer this thought lightly, nor callously. Out of the rubble of Dorian could be extracted a post-Dorian country that should see a stronger, much more fortified Bahamas:

• Spiritually — May more of us be as close to the heart of God as was the first apostle, Abraham. May we know this God and be known as the friends of God so that our post-Dorian relationship would be so strengthened that God would either warn many of us well ahead of time to prepare or that due to our friendship with Him as clergy and more so as a people, would spare us such tragedies for the rest of our national future.

I dare not delve into a theological inquisition of this experience. But we seemed to have experience both the wrath and mercy of God. Wrath in terms of staggering, historic destruction and death, yet mercy in terms of how many, many more Bahamians could have lost their lives but were yet spared. What a great time for the country to develop a national friendship with God.

Perchance, if this was an act of judgment, then now is the time for the nation to establish a National Day of Prayer: an annual repentance – real, serious intercessory, sackcloth and ashes prayer; not perfunctory, religious prayers.

Prayer for guidance; praise for past, present and future accomplishments; fasting; I am talking about a Jehoshaphat prayer (2 Chronicles 20) for all Bahamians — schools, businesses, etc.;

• Socially — may the spirit of volunteerism that engulfed (no pun intended) our people and catapulted them to rescue others, be that same spirit that will be implanted in us again.

We will transform Cain’s question of guilt — “Am I my brother’s keeper?” into a caring declaration of “I am my brother’s keeper.”

Consequently, post-Dorian would see less murder: physically, economically (capitalistic exploitation), politically (partisan victimization) and religiously (unforgiveness and judging). May Dorian engender a fresh “One Bahamianism” reality;

• Buildings — May our building codes be Dorian-stronger, enforced both by contractors and Ministry of Works authorities. However strong our building codes were, we now know that we need a Dorian Standard building code — higher and stronger. This destruction cannot happen again. For those of us who love the aesthetics of the wooden structure, place them over the Dorian Standard structures. We can even invest in strategically-placed hurricane shelters.

Emergency drills may now need to be considered routine for extreme weather; and

• Topographically — We can build more and higher seawalls. Expensive, yes, but compared to human lives, relatively speaking, inexpensive.

Great use of thousands of discarded conch shells. The aesthetically-built walls built around Delaporte beach can be emulated and yet adapted where possible along parts of our Family Island coastlines! Yes, I know it can’t defend against 20-feet-plus waves, but it is a start.

These measures, and more that others recommend, would allow generations to come to see Dorian as an ironic “gift” to The Bahamas. But we must start spiritually.

Again I say, what a great time for the country to develop a national friendship with God. We cannot criticize an inanimate storm that mercilessly took lives, but then mercilessly, intentionally take the lives of our fellow citizen and brother. May Dorian not change us, but may we change because of Dorian.

But more than that, we defer to Hosea 6: 1-2, “Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, but He will heal us… After two days He will revive us, after three days He will raise us up… ”

In the midst our midnight, we wait for the third day of being raised up…the dawning of a better, stronger, God-fearing post-Dorian Bahamas!

Still grieving for my country.

 Dr. B

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