Believe in Coincidence? Africa Will Change That
Note from Susie: I wrote this story more than a year ago and in preparing to post it today, I was moved to tears by the last sentence. The original intent of this commentary was to showcase how we can find (and celebrate) our commonality when there seems to be a world full of differences. Juxtaposed today with what is happening to the beautiful Ukrainian people, this text stopped me in my tracks.
Lee Lewis is a dedicated man of God. He’s a son, husband, father to nine children, provider, minister, photographer, counselor, activist, educator, mentor, author, influencer, traveler, explorer, and my dear friend. Years ago, he shared this after a trip together to Africa:
“It was an amazing experience. The term ‘African American”’means an American with ancestry ties to Africa. To be on the continent and face to face with her people —my people—was a dream come true that resonated deeply within my soul. Interaction with the Hadzabe tribe was particularly indicative of these feelings in that they still live as my ancestors lived a thousand years ago. Considering the animals, land, the people, and even the air, it is difficult to put the emotions into words.”
His quote is short and sweet but powerful and profound when you peel back the emotions behind those words.This World needs to hear more of these types of words and connect to them more often. It’s important to honor our ancient ancestors — those who have come before us and brought us to this moment in time.
I used to believe in coincidences, but not any more. The lessons I have learned following my husband Morgan’s passing in 2017 have made me believe that all things are connected in this world. Every blade of grass, every leaf on the tree, every rock, stone, and every human being…we are all ONE. I believe that when we interact with each other, there is an exchange of energy that takes place and that nothing is left to chance. I believe that things happen exactly when they are meant to happen and not a minute before or after that exact moment in time.
Case in point: Six months after the sudden loss of my husband of 29 years in a horrific motorcycle accident, I was still in darkness and feeling my way through most days, doing everything possible to claw my way back to the light. I was invited by his friends on a safari to Africa, and decided to go just to change my environment, and because Africa was to have been where we would have celebrated our 30th anniversary that summer. Feeling sad and alone on the flight to Europe, but there are no coincidences in this world, only synergy and synchronicity.
I had flown to Amsterdam and opted for a one-day layover in order to break up two grueling 10+ hour flights. I stowed my things at the hotel and set out to explore the streets and canals in the area when my phone alerted me to an incoming text message on a group text that had been created a few weeks earlier for our group’s safari.
It was a simple message from “Lee Lewis” asking if anyone else was in Amsterdam a day early, and offering to meet up at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch that afternoon. I did not know Lee, but responded that I was already there and would head to the Hard Rock and wait for him there.
When he arrived, we put in our order and began sharing our backstories. The conversation was the typical “get to know you” stuff at first, but we quickly learned that we each had experienced significant loss in our lives in the months leading up to the trip. Mine being the loss of my husband and his being the loss of one of his youngest twin daughters (twins). Let’s suffice to say that the connection we formed through this shared grief experience, and the adventures that lay ahead of us on our African safari, cemented our relationship as dear friends from that moment on.
After our meal, we walked back through Amsterdam together, taking it all in. Heck, we even got hustled by a family that approached us on the sidewalk right in front of my hotel. Lee and I both saw it coming and we were on high alert with red flags everywhere. Yet I still got taken for $230 bucks when all was said and done; it was lifted right out of my money belt!
The next morning we boarded the flight to Tanzania, where you might say we got hustled again! This time, by Africa herself! She simply stole both of our hearts and souls from the second we stepped onto the continent.
Riding in the same safari truck several times throughout the tour, I noticed that Lee often pulled out a little notebook and jotted down a thought or two. Then I realized he was making notes about things that the rest of us in the truck were saying or how we were reacting. I asked him about it, and he said he was just making notes for future sermons. My shenanigans are absolutely rich fodder to build sermons around! Dang it!
You see, Lee was with me on the fourth morning of the trip when I spread my husband’s ashes over the Serengeti from the hot air balloon. I was also with Lee as he spent 20 unforgettable minutes of his life interacting with the eldest member of the Hadzabe tribe several days later. The exchange of emotion and love between those two complete strangers is something I’ll never forget.
And in case the preacher didn’t know this before, bearing witness to those incredible few minutes changed my life forever in an instant, I realized how superficial our differences are compared to the similarities that all humankind cherishes,namely, food, shelter, family, fellowship, joy, laughter, peace, and freedom.
To Lee I say,“Keep preaching, Preach! If you run out of ideas for your lessons, give me a call, or come back on another safari with me soon!”