The Star of Bethlehem

The wounded man faltered in his report over again, he took a breath and apologised by saying that he lacked the words to describe what he had experienced. But there was one thing that he still couldn’t get over, namely that one had brought him back to life. It was as if paradise had been withheld from him – this were his words. Anyway, the first days “back on Earth” had been terribly difficult for him and he still felt that he was having a bad dream. He couldn’t get himself to thank us, he could basically only reprove us. His attitude hardly changed during the first few weeks. Only during the last days of his recouperation was he able to indicate smile on his face. – To dismiss his condition by diagnosing a depression or that his personality was prone to experience depressions would have been wrong. The most important criteria for this was definitely missing. This case occupied the young doctor’s mind to such a degree that once he had returned to Germany to further his studies, he mentioned it to a circle of his colleagues. One of his fellow students had always seemed occlusive, humourless and completely obsessed with his work, ergo not very congenial to him. He was also a few years older than the others and had started his medical studies relatively late. After having listened to this report for some time, he spoke up by saying that he knew of a similar case and that he himself had gone through a corresponding experience himself, an experience that changed him completely and brought about his desire to study medicine. He gave a short and almost emotionless account of what had happened: His spare time was devoted to sport, above everything else swimming in which he participated in junior competitions. He swam numerous kilometres in the river Oder every day until autumn. One day he was in the grip of severe cramps that started in his legs whilst in the middle of the stream. He wasn’t prepared to admit this weakness to himself and decided to ride it out. But once the cramps had taken control of the rest of his body, it was too late to save himself by swimming to the shore. Fully aware that he was going to die, he sank like a stiff board. He could still remember, as if through a veil, the panic filled fear that gripped him and how the water began to asphyxiate him. Everything was suddenly over and he thought that he had experienced the same that the fighter from Kosovo had described. There were no words for this. After he had been rescued and resuscitated, he too could not and had not wanted to live and everything seemed unreal and depressing. They had apparently tried to resuscitate him for over an hour before his heartbeat and his breathing returned. A weakness of the heart’s muscles persisted for a while after. But he had to gradually get used to his existence again. The whole experience that still stirs below the surface made him take an interest in questions of life, ailments and death. He graduated from high school and studied medicine. He also knew a former athlete from the former GDR (German Democratic Republic) who had the same experience is his. Both of them were in agreement that if they could choose their own form of death, they would like to drown again. Thinking about such a possibility, they would have had a great fear of death in the past. This fear had completely disappeared now. One couldn’t talk about suicidal thoughts in his case, but his memory of experiencing death was always with him like a quiet longing. The man by the window precisely remembered this fellow student and also that when he had awakened fragmentally during his own pulmonary infarction – whilst still receiving oxygen – there had been a distinct reluctance within him to having to return to his previous painful existence. He wanted to go back again to the “OTHER SIDE” – not as if in a dream, because the here and now was like an oppressing dream in comparison to a real, glorious WORLD. Certainly, the consisting shortness of breath restricted him from a purely organic point of view, but he was aware enough to consciously experience his second infarction: It started with a dagger-like pain and he clearly remembers his dismay. But this was soon followed by a rather lustful feeling of