Χριστός Ανέστη! Aληθώς ανέστη!

Χριστός Ανέστη! Aληθώς ανέστη! April 4, 2021


It's rather beautiful, is it not?
Sunrise over Earth. (NASA public domain image)




Χριστός Ανέστη!


To put it in Roman letters, Christos Anesti! is the traditional greeting given by Greek Christians, and by other Christians in the Greek or Orthodox tradition, on Easter morning.  “Christ is risen!”


Aληθώς ανέστη!


Alithos Anesti! (“Truly, he is risen!”) is the traditional response.


I offer the same greeting to anybody and everybody who reads this blog entry.  Christ is risen.  That is the most wonderful news imaginable.




In the Greek Orthodox Church, this hymn is sung on Easter morning and for forty days thereafter:


Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν

θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας

καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι

ζωὴν χαρισάμενος.


Christos anesti ek nekron

Thanato Thanaton patiras

Kai tis en tis mnimasi

Zoin charisamenos.


Chist is risen from the dead,

and by his death he has trampled down death.

and to those in the tomb

he gave eternal life.




A friend of my wife wrote an Easter-relevant poem quite a few years ago.  She says that” it still needs work,” but, with her kind permission, I share it here:


Tree of Life

That other,
that untouched tree
in the garden,
heavy with fruit,
through centuries
and reappears,
the branches now two beams crossed
to intersect at the meridian of time,
and the fruits merge
forming  a twisted figure
hanging there
in the darkness.
Then on the morning
of the third day
at last and forever
He steps forward
from the open tomb
and stands
arms outstretched
opening wide.

(Jean Marshall, 5 April 2003)




And now, in the spirit of Easter, I offer some additional material from Bruce Greyson, After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond (New York: St. Martin’s Essentials, 2021).


Dr. Greyson is one of the foremost living authorities on near-death experiences.  He is also Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, having previously taught at the medical schools of the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut.  A Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he reports that he was not brought up in a religious family, and it isn’t at all clear from what he has written that he is religious, at least in a conventional sense, even now.  So the experience that he reports in the opening pages (1-8) of his book — an experience that launched his decades of research into near-death experiences — is perhaps even more striking than it would otherwise have been:


Fifty years ago, a woman who had just tried to kill herself told me something that challenged what I thought I knew about the mind and the brain, and about who we really are.  (1)


He recalls that he was eating spaghetti in the hospital when his pager went off.  It startled him.  He was just a few months out of medical school, and he had been deeply immersed in a handbook on emergency psychiatry.  In his surprise, he splashed tomato sauce on both his book and his tie.  As a new doctor, he was trying to look professional, and this wasn’t the look that he wanted.


The pager was summoning him with regard to a patient in the emergency room who had taken a drug overdose.  Holly — that’s the name he assigns to her — was a first-year college student, and she had been brought to the hospital by her roommate.  The roommate wanted to talk with him, too.


Dr. Greyson threw on a white lab coat and buttoned it up in order to hide the embarrassing tomato sauce stain on his tie.  He went to the emergency room (ER) first, to check on Holly.  She was in stable condition but was unconscious.  A “sitter” was there, watching her.  (This was a routine precaution for psychiatric patients in the ER.). She had been “out” the whole time, said the sitter.


After examining her for a short while, Dr. Greyson headed down the hall to the family lounge where the roommate was waiting.  The room was hot and stuffy, and he soon moved the fan a bit closer and unbuttoned his lab coat.


They spoke for some time, including specific information about drugs and medicines in their apartment, but she had to get home to work on a paper.  She didn’t know Holly well.  When she left, Dr. Greyson buttoned his lab coat up again, so that nobody in the ER would see the tomato stain on his tie.  He went back to check on Holly.  The sitter was still there, she was still out cold, and, the sitter reported, there had been no change.  Dr. Greyson went home.


He returned the next morning at 8 AM and found that Holly was newly awake, though still drowsy.  He headed off to check on her.


He introduced himself to her.  She said that wasn’t necessary; she recognized him, she said, from the previous evening.


He wondered how that was even remotely possible.  She replied that she had seen him in the family lounge, talking with her roommate.  “You were wearing a striped tie that had a red stain on it,” she told him.  She was able to relate his conversation with the roommate in great detail, and even recalled his moving the fan.


Concerned about his status as a newly-minted physician, he spoke to nobody about what had happened, and did not include it in his report.  “I just wanted it to go away” (8)


As desperately as I wanted to erase from my memory my entire encounter with Holly, I was by then enough of a scientist to know I couldn’t just ignore it.  Pretending something didn’t happen just because we can’t explain it is the exact opposite of science.  My quest to find a logical explanation for the riddle of the spaghetti stain led me into a half century of research.  It didn’t answer all my questions, but it did lead me to question some of my answers.  And it would soon take me into territory I never could have imagined.  (13)


As psychologist Bob Van de Castle put it, if you get hit by a truck, y0u know that you were hit by a truck, and no amount of skepticism from others will ever convince you that the truck was only imaginary.  I haven’t yet been hit by a truck, but I was hit almost a half century ago by Holly’s insistence that she had seen the stain on my tie while she was unconscious in another room.  I didn’t know how to make sense of that event, but I couldn’t pretend it never happened, and I couldn’t dismiss it as a misperception or the product of my imagination.  (93)



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