Friendship Is More Than a Myth

by Wayne Warner

An urban legend tells of two young brothers that dreamed of becoming artists. Although their father worked long hours, he could not send them both to school. The brothers mutually decided to flip a coin to decide who would go to school first. After the winner completed his studies the second brother would go study.

The winner ventured into the great European art centers. He became an outstanding artist, while his brother worked and prayed for his success. As they celebrated the artist’s success and prepared for the second brother to attend school, they realized that his fingers, stiff and twisted from mine work, could no longer execute the delicate strokes of a sensitive artist. This prompted the artist to paint the hands of his brother-miner, who had sacrificed his career to make art school possible.

Public speakers have often repeated variations of this story. It successfully illustrates loving and sacrificial friendship. The painting known as The Praying Hands by Albrecht Dürer offers a visual illustration of this story.

Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremburg, Germany. A Protestant, he grew up in the family of a hard-working goldsmith. Dürer became one of the great northern Renaissance painters. He made a huge impact on other artists as one of the first to use tempera and oil glazes. His works include his Self-Portrait and Adam and Eve. Others are Melainelalia, painted in 1514; Knight, Death, and the Devil, painted in 1513; and, The Four Horsemen, painted in 1498.

Possessing a fertile imagination, Dürer worked as a painter, draughtsman, goldsmith, musician, and writer. He produced 200 woodcuts and 100 line engravings. He also studied anatomy, mathematics, proportions, perspective, and completed a manual of geometry, as well as designing the first flying machine.

While urban legends are often unfounded, loving relationships and committed friendships are both legendary and substantive! Jesus understood ancient Jewish wisdom that taught a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure (Sir 6:14). He understood well when he said, greater love has no one than this, that one will lay down one’s life for a friend (Jhn 15:13).

The Bible speaks often to our culture of individuality, independence, and isolation. Through true friendships, like David and Jonathan, Barnabas and Paul, and others, the Bible reveals the joys we miss in our fragmented high-tech isolation.

The true friend is that person who joyfully shares both the good times and bad times, simply for the joy of the friendship and the companionship of community.


Wayne Warner is a retired pastor, caregiver, freelance writer, and occasional gardener.



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