A Psalm for Puerto Rico

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” So begins Psalm 22, also known as “The Prayer of an Innocent Person.”

Those words should sound familiar even to the non-religious among those reading this. Jesus prays them as He hangs from the Cross.

These must be the words the people of Puerto Rico are crying right now. Only the “God” they are crying out to is the government that is supposed to serve it.  It is our own.

“Do not stray far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help,” the Psalmist pleads.

Well, President Trump responds, the ocean is so big. As if that were a reason for what is supposedly the “greatest country on earth” not to make every heroic attempt possible to aid Puerto Rico in its plight.   It is of such little consequence to this administration that Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who flew with Trump to Texas and Florida to see the damage wrought by Harvey and Irma on infrastructure, cannot be bothered to mention it at a Monday appearance with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, according to the Washington Post.

Puerto Rico has no infrastructure left. Its interior has been leveled.

“As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue cleaves to my palate.” Yes, when you are dehydrated, this is exactly how your mouth feels.  I know because on a trip I made to Greece – when I became dehydrated and had to go to hospital for fluids – my mouth had felt like cotton. No matter how much water I drank (thank God I was so fortunate to have it), that feeling would not subside.

According to an article in “Popular Science,” water comprises 65% of our body. It helps the brain to think, the blood to flow, the muscles to move.  When it first kicks in, thirst makes your body try to hold onto fluids.  “You sweat less, your body temperature rises.  Your blood becomes thicker and sluggish.  To maintain oxygen levels, your heart rate increases,” it goes on.  Sending less water to your bladder, your urine becomes darker.

The next stage is fainting (what I did that landed me in that hospital in Athens). The article states that by this time, your blood flow will have become so concentrated your skin will shrivel.  A blood pressure drop could lead to the fainting I experienced.  Because you have stopped sweating, your body becomes overheated, like a car without water in its radiator.

Stage 3 is the beginning of organ failure. The cells of your body have started shrinking.  The brain becomes confused and delirious.  The kidneys shut down in an effort to preserve hydration in your system.  Your arms and legs cramp as the sodium and potassium levels in your body rise as fluid levels go down.  “WND Front Page” quotes Dr. David Stevens, a physician who spent 13 years tending to the dying in Africa, as saying the misery of it becomes so great, the patient tries to cry and cannot.

Abdominal muscles cramp, dry heaving begins as the intestines lose their hydration. The brain shrinks and the headaches that causes are severe. Progressive lethargy kicks in and hallucinations and seizures happen.  Finally, coma sets in as your blood pressure becomes so low as to be undetectable and the heart gives out in a shudder that keeps it from pumping, the “WND Front Page” article continues.

“Contrary to those that try to paint a picture of a gentle process, death by dehydration is a cruel, inhumane and often agonizing death,” Dr. Stevens of the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) is quoted in the March 24th, 2005 article.

There is a reason they hydrate you in Hospice to keep you comfortable before you are lain “in the dust of death,” as the Psalmist writes.

This is the 7th day since Maria struck Puerto Rico, a territory of the U.S. we acquired in 1898 following the Spanish American Civil War.

The 7th day is the day death from dehydration begins to occur.  God created the world in seven days.  In Puerto Rico, all is destroyed, and the “God” known as our government has seemingly turned its face.  The aid sent so far has been anemic in comparison to the tragedy of the situation.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Have we, indeed, forsaken Puerto Rico? Will we be “proudly hailed” for our response to this question?

I think not.

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