Every now and again people that have left an imprint on my spiritual journey wander through my mind. Over the years Doctor Gabriel Masry has come into my mind. He has wandered through my mind many times over the years and through the years I have wondered what happened to him. I remember he always had time to laugh and talk about life. Once I remember he actually got down on his knees to show me how a prayer could be a wonderful exercise. I didn’t realize at the time how that incident would fit into my personal spiritual journey—but what he showed me was the full body prayer performed by those who belong to the Islamic faith.
I have always believed that if I feel drawn to say something to someone then I need to follow through. It is not just feeling drawn to say something because I often don’t even know what I am going to say—instead it is this haunting urge deep inside that doesn’t leave.—an urge that says go here, call this person, or as with Doctor Masry I needed to find him. So on many occasions when he would wander into my mind, I would type his name into Google without yielding any results. On this day, however, when he wandered through my mind once again, I typed his name into Google and suddenly up popped several links. So I followed them… like cairns or signposts there they were—the perfect path. There it was my divine hint and I knew that I couldn’t ignore it. There was an address.
Trying desperately to do the math, I thought to myself—this must be an old address because I think he graduated from medical school in 1947 and wouldn’t that mean he must be in his nineties. I sent an email asking if I could be connected with someone who could direct me to where I could pay my respects. The answer back was “he still lives here.” Now I was sure that God had put this before me and I needed to follow through. I mailed a card. This is some of what I said:
“Dear Doctor Masry:
I am writing to you because you have been on my mind quite a bit lately and I always think when that happens it is a divine hint which should be followed. So when your name popped right up on the computer when I did a search I decided that I should write.
I was your patient for several years. I became your patient when you put my nose back together after an automobile accident. Every office visit you would say to me “let me see that nose.”
Life carried me away over rocky terrain and through green valleys, and down some slippery slopes as life can do and then one day when I called your office it was closed. Off and on over the years I have thought of you and hoped that life had treated you well. For some reason you have a special place in my heart and I truly believe that when we feel something we should not be afraid to express it. You were a wonderful doctor and a special person and if I could have afforded an office visit every week I probably would have been in your office every week.
I have been invited to serve in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe. I will be leaving the end of March and I didn’t want to leave without telling you how important you were to me and how important I imagine you were to so many people. Asalaam Alakium- Peace Be Unto You.”
Two or three days went by and then I received a phone call from a friend of his and an invitation to visit. I accepted. His friend said he was 90 years old, having some health problems, and didn’t think anyone had remembered him.
It was a clear warm spring-like day when I pulled my blazer into the driveway of a large country home. He waved from the edge of the driveway where he had been watching for me. Inside we sat on a white brocade sofa in front of a sunny window that looked out over the countryside. We laughed, shared life stories, listened to Arabic music while he recited the Qur'an and shared hot tea and mamoul cookies he had recently made. He reminisced about growing up in Lebanon, his Jewish faith, his belief in God and the motto he lived by… Live in mercy, live humbly, and walk always with your God. He talked of his practice of medicine, his service in the Navy, and the death of his wife. Until recently he played tennis three times a week, lectured to surgeons at a hospital in the city once a week and tended to the business of living life--now due to some sudden health issues he spoke of having outlived his usefulness.
Doctor Masry speaks, reads and writes seven languages. He is fluent in all Arabic dialects. He said when he was 70 he offered himself as a translator to the FBI and said he was willing to go to Iraq… He said he was told “go home old man.” They have no idea what they missed.
As I drove away that day I thought--what an honor to have known such a beautiful soul. I don’t know why God sent me there that day or why I felt such a desperate need to find him or to write that letter and I don’t need to know. When I receive God’s divine hint there is no turning away and I don’t need to analyze it or wonder why—it just is what it is.
For your enjoyment:
Mamoul – a Middle Eastern cookie often served on holidays. And so good… but be sure to let them cool before eating.
Date filling: pitted dates about 11oz. add about 5 tbsp of water. And simmer on low until jam like texture… spread to cool on a surface such as a plate.
Dough: 2 cups all purpose flour, about 1 and ½ sticks of butter cut into the flour such as making pie crust. Old recipes call for rose water but this isn’t necessary. Add 4 tbsp of milk and mix well using hands or a food processor.
Preheat oven to 350. Use a wooden mould if you have one but if not you can just form the dough into small balls of about 20 to 25. Use your thumb to make a hole in the center so it looks like a cup. Add a spoon of cooled date filling and pinch the top closed. Place on parchment paper and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-15 minutes making sure they do not turn brown… when done dust with powdered sugar.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Gandhiji
More about catching the Divine Hint visit: Mysticsaint blog