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X. Manuel Suárez
 

The palm tree Irma broke

A doctor visiting the Dominican Republic shares his thoughts after the storm.

FEATURES AUTHOR X. Manuel Suárez SANTO DOMINGO 12 SEPTEMBER 2017 12:10 h GMT+1
A palm in Sanamá, Dominican Republic, after Irma. / Photo: X. Manuel Suárez

Palm trees are fascinating. God put a lot of effort into them: elegant trunks that open into a star of arched branches which look like fireworks falling on the ground. One can stare at them for a long time seeing how the wind of the afternoon moves them. The sun, its light, glows beautifully as it hides behind these trees and scoulpes silhouettes on the water.



This morning the sky was grey and turbulent, the sea is rough and the beach is full of dead alguae, fallen coconuts and broken palm branches. A fisherman says hello as he passes by.



Hurricane Irma has visited us here, and is now leaving our region. Last night there was an incessant roar with a cascade of water.



Palms bend, twist, and recover their natural position, only to bend again in the face of the strong winds. They resist, and teach me that, in the face of adversity, the best is to have a flexible waist, receive the impact and bend enough to make sure we do not breake. And then, return to our original position.



But what will happen to the wobbly houses of so many people here? We cannot take the motorway to go to see what happened. We have feared for many people here in Samaná, for their houses made with pieces of wood and sheet, for their barefooted children, for some of their pregnant women.



I take a photo that impacts me. A palm, one I knew well, tall, thin and elegant, is on the ground. Broken, this one is definitely defeated, with its 'head' facing the sand. It is an image of death, the picture of a fallen world that once was created with much care by God to make it long-lasting. The drama of creation we see today can only be understood through the account of the Fall.



To me, the hurricane seemed huge, but two days later we learn about what really happened: the island was reached only by the fringe of the storm that was coming in our direction. In fact, tourists were evacuated because a disaster was feared. About 30 minutes before the expected impact on the island, Irma diverted towards the sea. The night before my wife was praying that such thing would happen, and many others did so, I am sure. We have no news of victims here.



 



Photo: X. Manuel Suárez



The day after, Eva and me bump into someone who is from our own country. At one point, he says:



– There are people who pray and have power, they have been praying a lot asking that the hurricane would not hit us, and thank God, it changed its direction. Yes, that is what happened. There are many of us who are not good people, but many other who are good people, and pray, and God listens to them.



Of course, the truth is that we are all bad, and that the power to change things does only come from the soverign God. But it is interesting how this person perceives the real capacity of Christians to interact with God, in such a tangible way, and the benefits this brings to all people.



 



X. Manuel Suárez.

If the hurricane had impacted and brought destruction, I would continue to think that God is sovereign and that the Fall affects the whole creation. And I cannot give an answer to why sometimes God allows disasters and why he prevents them from happen, but I have no doubt that God is receptive to the prayers of His sons and daughters.



We still live under the consequences of the Fall, but we do so in the hope of a new and restored world. The fallen palm will be redeemed some day in a lifted tree, the Cross.



I guess you will not be able to read this account today, because I am not sure when we will have electricty and internet again. Whenever you read this, the sky and the sea will have recovered its blue light; and most palms will have recovered from the distress. They will dance again gently with the breeze.



X. Manuel Suárez is a Spanish Medical doctor. He visits the Dominican Republic frequently to serve with an NGO he helped start. 


 

 


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