Dear readers do you believe in miracles? Even small ones?
This story took place in Machu Picchu, Peru. The plot revolves around an unfortunate happening that, miraculously, evolved into a modern day miracle. “This is a Reader’s Digest story,” stated my husband Shelly, as he listened in awe. It is important I provide you with a background before I move you into this amazingly true story.
The Lion of Judah is a symbol of the Israeli tribe of Judea, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The association between Judah and the lion can be found in the blessings given by Jacob to Judah in the book of Genesis.
It was twenty-four years ago that I joined a Jewish woman’s organization called the Lion of Judah. Women joining this organization commit themselves through their charitable work to helping others. It is an international group and I am a proud to be involved. Each woman is presented with a pin in the shape of the lion.
One day my close girlfriend, Sheila, gave me the idea to wear my lion pin when I traveled. “Other women will recognize the symbol of the lion and you will meet people from all over the world and all walks of life,” she said. I thought to myself, “What a great idea. I love meeting new and interesting women.” That was the beginning of my relationship with my Lion of Judah pin. We have since traveled all over the world “together.”
On my first trip, as I boarded my flight I made another decision. My Lion of Judah pin was going to be my good luck charm! It would hold up the plane, and it would protect me on my journeys. I would wear it everyday on my travels. And I did, until the day I lost it…
Losing the lion pin
I lost it hiking the trails of Machu Picchu —a hike traveled by hundreds of people each day. The terrain was rugged with sand, weeds, trees, bushes and wildflowers, and a long hike to boot! It took us a whole day, up and down, with stops along the way to learn about the ancient sights.
I was wearing my pin on my Levi’s pocket. As the hike ended I glanced down at my pocket and noticed my pin was gone! There was no way I could retrace my thousands of steps. So with a heavy heart, I proceeded down the rest of the hike with my husband, Shelly.
A few days later, I traveled back to the United States.
Believe in miracles
My phone rang the day after I returned home. (While many call me Honey, the name on my birth certificate is Susan and many close to me call me Suzi.) A voice said, “Suzi, have you traveled to Peru within the last year?” “Yes, we arrived home yesterday.” She then identified herself as an administrator from the Lion of Judah division in Chicago. And these were her exact words: “Well, you are not going to believe this! A Rabbi hiking at Machu Picchu happened to look down and saw a shiny object lying almost totally hidden under a leaf. He told me the reflection of the sun hit the corner of the object so he bent down to see what it was and was so surprised when he recognized it was a Lion of Judah pin!”
I was speechless! I finally said, “It is a miracle. I cannot believe this happened,” I said with utter joy. After all, the sun moves all day. There are several different trails the Rabbi could have taken. Thousands of hikers passed the spot where it lay and a Rabbi noticed and found it!
The second part of this miraculous story is the “miracle of identifying its’ owner.” Lion pins are not inscribed, mine was! Why was mine? I have no idea.
Someone inscribed the back of my pin with my first name (no last) and six letters, JUF-IEF. The Rabbi knew what IEF meant! It led him to Chicago, my home! My name is spelled (Suzi) unlike most, allowing the office to trace the pin to me!
The Rabbi would not return the pin until he was certain of the owner so I emailed the following note: “I am overjoyed and in disbelief that you found my lion! The pin is my good luck charm and means the world to me. I so look forward to meeting you and personally thanking you.” He emailed back, ”I am just as happy!”
He told me he was traveling by ship and would not be home for a few months. I learned he was 73 years old and from New Jersey. He was traveling with his wife, Lily. I told him, “I would be honored to have Lily wear my pin until your return to America. It will certainly protect her,” I said. She did and I was glad.
Upon his return home, he called. We spoke for a long time. He sent back my Lion Pin in a little apricot velvet pouch with a beautiful letter. “You mentioned your Lion of Judah pin protects you… apparently God wanted it returned to you!”
Did I meet the Rabbi and his wife, Lily? Yes, over dinner in Chicago. There were five of us. The Rabbi, his wife, Shelly, myself, and of course…my Lion of Judah pin.
Now do you believe in miracles?