Ombra Mai Fu (Never Was A Shade)

"Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree,
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning, and storms
never disturb your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet."

 I understand! I have heard this piece of music before. This time, however, noticing the title I wanted to translate the words to discover what had so inspired the composer to create such beautiful sounds. "Ombra Mai Fu" means, "Never Was a Shade." How intriguing! My eyes fell immediately on a picture of a stately tree. I glanced quickly back to read the words of this small work of grand feeling and at once I began to weep. I understand this love, this feeling of beauty and reverence! I understand the impulsion that caused the author to pen words and string sounds to describe something that embodies so much meaning and feeling deep within the breast. 

The poem speaks of the Plane Tree. The tree is one of those grand sorts of trees; tall and lovely with a thick, grey-brown twisty kind of trunk and branches staggered along it reaching first out and then up. The leaves have a lime-green hue. The base of the tree pictured has a large opening where someone could climb into and hide—a grand, glorious tree! A wonder! A creation designed to pierce the conscience and lift the heart and mind to higher regions.

I love the works of God in creation that make me feel as if He had just left the very place where I now stand; and the smell of Him and the imprints of His hands can almost be perceived. The air is suddenly sweet and still and the lighting is seemingly altered; a quickening of your spirit arouses your senses and your soul perceives His presence and your heart hears His voice. 

To me, a tree is a symbol of permanence, fortitude and perseverance. It is a monument. It sees generations of small hands, toddling feet, curious climbers and shade-seekers; boys who think they are cowboys and girls setting up for tea. It hears their whispers, laughter and tears. It feels the weight of the mother's back pressed against it, and the weight of her head as she looks upwards through the leaves to her Jehovah Jireh(The Lord will provide) and her El Roi (The One who sees her).

Sometimes, I come across two trees that stand as sentinels, flanking an empty space where once stood a home; a place where a mother once cleaned and swept endless dirt and children let the screen door slam behind them as they unmindfully galloped through reality while in their imaginary world.  A tree provides shelter for birds and shade for man; memorials for a loved one gone and a meeting place for a loved one near.

Oh! The lessons of the trees! Hope is found as I see their branches flail and their trunks sway in a summer storm. What pleasure there is to witness the beauty as their leaves catch the glorious rays of sunset or the life-giving dew from heaven, testifying to God's faithful care! Every season brings its particular battering rams; but in the resistance springs the strength.

Life is a series of continual changes for me but the trees stand erect, firm, and resolute. Marks of age reside within their bark, mine reside without. I look out my window to the same trees, same scene, and I praise my God who changes not and who will fortify me with the strength I need to stand erect, firm and resolute until my task of shading, protecting, memorializing, hearing the laughter, tears, prayers, and whispers of loved ones is done.


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