GoStats web counter ONE EASTER NIGHT – NEO Magazine


By on May 10, 2024
Dimitri C. Michalakis

by Dimitri C. Michalakis

When I was a kid living on Chios island, in Greece, I remember one night on Holy Week we had to go to our little church just off the dry riverbed that wound between the fields. Only it was a stormy night, flashing with lightning, with the riverbed churning with rainwater, the sky turning blue and black, the trees swirling like giant feather dusters. “Hold my hand—” my yiayia told me, so I held her hand tight as we walked to the church, on the bridge over the water tumbling below us in the river—normally bone dry. And somehow, with my Papou holding down his hat with one hand and an umbrella over us with the other hand, we managed to make it to the church and its warm and glowing colors inside of candles, icons, and people huddled together in their Easter best: men on one side, women on the other.

I stayed with my papou, in his stasidi, and I listened to the priest, and I listened to the psaltes, and I stared at all the icons on the walls, and over us at the vault of the church: which showed Christ sitting on a fluff of clouds, his feet touching them like vamvaki, only with a hand out to bless us. But then there was the icon of St. George fighting the dragon with its flaming red mouth, and St. Demetrios fighting the infidel with his dripping red sword, and John the Baptist staring at us with his hollow eyes, and Romans spearing Christians, and Christians spearing Romans, and one of the apostles hanging upside down on a cross—and Jesus on the Cross with the Virgin Mary at his feet crying and all these other women crying.

Me tin foni tou ponou!” the bishop yelled at the lectern, cause the bishop was there with his golden kalamafki, talking about Jesus’ pain on the Cross. “Patera, patera–” the bishop yelled like Jesus “—sose me!” Only the sky thundered, only the bishop thundered, only the sky thundered, only the bishop thundered, until he raised his staff to the dome of the church and held it there. “Pisomou seho Satana!” he bellowed, while it thundered, but he kept his staff there, and he wouldn’t drop it, through all that thundering—until the thundering suddenly got quieter—and the bishop smiled at us. “Na o Theos mas esose!” he told us.

So I felt so much better. Only then we had to go home after the service, but the river had swollen and spilled over the bridge and we couldn’t cross. Except then one of our neighbors picked me up, the truck driver with the gold teeth, and he put me on his shoulders and plowed across the river with me, like the shepherd in the icon carrying the lamb. And he carried my yiayia on his back, and helped my papou, and everybody else, until we were all safely across and then he flashed his gold teeth at us: “Kai tora nahoume Kali Anastasi!”

And he was drenched, but he looked happy, and we were drenched, but we looked happy, because he seemed like the agios that had come down from the sky just to rescue us.   

Hristos Anesti

Dimitri C. Michalakis

About Dimitri C. Michalakis

Dimitri C. Michalakis is Editor in Chief on NEO Magazine.