In a class that I’m taking at school, I’m learning about the history of creativity. It’s a really interesting class and I love learning about the things people did in Medieval times, the Renaissance, and the Baroque Era. While we were studying the Renaissance, we learned about Albrecht Dürer and his painting “Praying Hands”. I had seen this painting before, and I’ve always appreciated it. But after learning the story behind the painting, it has become one of my favorites and truly inspires me.
Dürer came from a large family, and he and his brother, Albert, both wanted to become artists. The family did not have enough money to send both to school to learn art, so they made a pact in which one would support the other while he was in school and then, when the other was finished and famous, they would switch. Albrecht won the coin toss, so Albert was to stay and work in the mines to support him.
Albrecht found success very quickly and excelled in his schooling. He began to earn good money for his work. After finishing his schooling, he returned home to give his brother the opportunity to go on to art school. But when he told Albert the news, he began to cry and said, “No, I can’t.” He held up his hands which had been bruised and battered from working in the mines, so much that he could barely hold his mining tools, not to mention the tools of an artist. Albert had sacrificed his opportunity by supporting his brother. Albrecht was deeply moved and then immortalized the hands of his brother in his painting, “Praying Hands”.
I never thought I would get emotional while reading a textbook, but this story hit me hard. I was touched by the love that these two brothers showed each others. I immediately thought of my siblings and all the things they have done for me. They’ve all made sacrifices, big and small, for me to get me to where I am now. I am reminded of the third verse in the hymn “Lord, I Would Follow Thee”.
I would be my brother’s keeper,
I would learn the healer’s art,
To the wouned and the weary,
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper,
Lord, I would follow thee.
My siblings have been their brother’s keeper to me. Here are a variety of stories of some sacrifices made for me and lessons taught to me: Mike took me out for lunch and a movie one day for fun when my school lost power. Brian was not being too cool to let me come to play Risk with his friends late at night. Whitney set me straight telling me to treat our Father with more respect. Kyle took time away from his wife to come down and watch the National Championship rugby game with me. Todd was willing to help me with a practical joke as I would drive with a blindfold over my eyes (I could see through it, don’t worry, Mom!) and he would pretend to direct me as onlookers freaked out. These are just a few of the special memories and times I’ve had with my siblings. It may seem small, but their examples and friendship have helped shape me.
I pray that I, too, may be my brother’s keeper. I may not be near a lot of my family at this time, but there are plenty of others who surround me. We are all brothers and sisters in God’s family. I hope that I may emulate the love the Dürer brothers had and that I may make sacrifices for those nearby, to lift them up, to lend them a helping hand, and to bring them joy.
Much of the story of Dürer comes from the textbook, “History of Creativity” by Brent Strong and Mark Davis.