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The Mighty Cedar of Lebanon

by Rev. Romanos V. Russo

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We knew her as “the German lady.” The house we had lovingly admired was “the German lady’s house.” That’s all we knew, that and the fact that we wanted her house very much. Of its many beauties its crowning glory was the majestic blue spruce that dominated all it surveyed from its throne in the front garden. Neighbors used to look to it for signs of the weather. When it swayed, it was windy. When shrouded in darkness it foretold a storm. When its azure verdance glistened, the sun would reign from dawn to dusk. It seemed eternal but was all too mortal.

When years later we bought that oft-coveted house, we found that the noble spruce had languished, agonized and died, its once triumphant grandeur reduced to an entombed stump. I looked upon the shallow grave and swore that I would plant life there again, soon: not a moment to lose. Death for Christians is always supplanted by life.

A cedar for God! No other tree would do. A cedar of Lebanon! It must be so. Only the noblest tree of all could wear the royal mantle it inherited. A cedar of Lebanon which You have planted. Great are Your works, O Lord, in wisdom have You wrought them all. (Psalm 103) The divine logic was inescapable. As we found our new home we would dedicate a tree, the national symbol of Lebanon, to remind us always of the homeless.

How many countless thousands of homeless and orphaned refugees wander the face of that chosen land? A land elect among the nations of the Levant, now abandoned by all save those who cannot escape her fatal beauty and those others, nameless, faceless, who plot to ravage her the more?

Lebanon, you milky-white land of the Phoenicians and Byzantines, Crusaders and Maronites, Christian and Moslems at once, for you were those cedars planted by the hand of God. For you I will plant a cedar in Brooklyn. As I water it I will think of your tears. As I nurture it I will weep for your children cut down while still only shoots. As I watch it spread its branches, I will recall how many times over the centuries you opened your arms to the persecuted and gave them shelter. As I be-hold its heavenward stride, I will pray with the prayers of your holy monks that my own life be directed also to what is above, to Who is above. As the winter clothes it with a pearly raiment of snow, I will have a care for your naked and shelterless wanderers.

If I live to behold its towering splendor, I will recall that the Psalmist said that the righteous will grow as tall as the cedars of Lebanon. And if I am granted the Highest Good, I will experience what Solomon said of the Beloved: His countenance is as Lebanon: noble as the cedars. (Song of Songs 5:15)

Beloved Lebanon, upon you has been visited the chastisement of Isaiah:

Yes, that will be the day of the Lord of Hosts
against all pride and arrogance,
against all that is great, to bring it down,
against all the cedars of Lebanon.

   (Isaiah 2:13)

Sweet Lebanon, upon you has fallen the sentence of Jeremiah:

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Tags: Lebanon Reflections/Inspirational