Like the tree for which you were named,
you combine the aesthetic with the practical.
Your principles stand firm
in the buffeting winds of peer pressure,
you offer the weak and voiceless
the shelter of your humanity
as branches beckon the birds,
you bear the fruit of your personality,
growing with each year
and proudly tended and harvested
by your loved ones,
you send out new shoots and tendrils
to embrace the shape of experience
and inhale the oxygen of knowledge,
you grow upward, ever upward
in anticipation of the limitless sky
and when you smile,
we behold it with the same joy
as awakening to the first blossoms of Spring.
I wrote this poem many years ago when I was working for a South African Jewish family on a moshav in northern Israel. Ilana was their teenage daughter and she was only a couple of years away from having to do her compulsory two year military service that most young Israelis must do when they turn eighteen. Ilana is Hebrew for tree, an appropriate name for someone growing up in a horticultural environment.
Please excuse the late posting, but school holidays can be all-consuming for a parent.