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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sacrifice of a Brother

In the 15th century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with
18 children. In order to keep food on the table, the father, Durer worked
almost eighteen hours a day at his trade.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Durer's elder children,
Albert and Albrecht wanted to pursue their talent of art, but they knew
their father would never be financially able to send either of them to
Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

Finally, two boys would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby
mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while attended the
academy. When the "won the toss" brother completed his studies, in four
years, he would support his other brother at the academy, either with sales
of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

When Albrecht as young artist returned to his village, the Durer family
held a dinner to celebrate his homecoming. After a long memorable
meal,  Albrecht rose from his honored position to drink a toast to his
beloved brother. His closing words, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of
mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream,
and I will take care of you."

But Albert was shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed
and repeated, over and over, "No ... No, brother. I cannot go to
Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... what four years in the mines have
done to my hands!

The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have
been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even
hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on
parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht
Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and
thin fingers stretched skyward.

He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost
immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his
tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

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