Angel in the Clouds
Having just finished work for the day as a nurse clinician at a busy city hospital,
I was pleased when my son came to pick me up to go shopping. I slipped into the driver's seat and proceeded west toward the
Verizanno-Narrows Bridge on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, where the traffic slowed to a snailspace and then stopped dead.
I glanced up above the Warbassie Housing complex, on the left, and noticed unusual phenomena.
It was a sunny, late afternoon and the cloud formations were beginning to pick
the soft gold, lavender and pink colours of sunset. Most of the clouds were moving in waves and rolling rhythmically across
the sky. As I continued to observe, since traffic was no longer moving, I noticed something I thought to be rather remarkable.
There appeared a window-like space in the midst of this ocean of clouds that was somewhat ovoid, like the outline of a wide-open
eye. Although all the clouds around it were moving with some rapidity, this "window" seemed suspended in space, unaffected
by the light but steadily drifting winds that maintained all of the other clouds in motion, above, below and all around the
"opening," while the background within the "window" remained clear bright blue. Neither did any clouds drift across it. Its
domain remained isolated from all the activity occurring around it.
In the foreground, there appeared an angel-like apparition, at first faint,
but quickly increasing in definition, so that all its fine features became clearly visible. It was Raphaelian, with flowing
robe, curled tresses, folded wings, and holding a torch-like object in front of itself in distinct in tones of gray and white.
I brought it to the attention of my son in the passenger seat beside me. Interestingly, he clearly identified the static formation
of this "window in the sky" in it's surrounding sea of clouds, but noted that what he saw quite clearly was a large cross.
I looked up again and the angel-like object had become even more clearly
defined. I requested my son to look carefully once more. Again he studied it, feeling what we were witnessing was unusual,
but he saw only a large, well-defined cross or crucifix. (I felt that him seeing a cross was even unusual, since we are not
Christians in the religious sense of the word.) I looked about to see if the other drivers on the road near me had noticed.
Mainly, they were looking ahead, disgruntled, waiting for traffic to move. I marked at least five minutes on the clock until
the traffic began to move again and I had to proceed, although I would have preferred to continue to observe.
The image's configuration had not as yet deteriorated one iota in all the time I
observed it. If one is a cloud watcher, one is familiar with the ebb and flow of clouds into different shapes, even when the
sky is relatively static. This, as I stated, remained clear and extremely well defined for an extended period of time in an
otherwise rapidly changing skycap. The next day, I checked with co-workers and with the local papers to see if anyone else
had witnessed this sight, but found no evidence to that effect. I still search the sky, when I can, for the angel in the window,
but have never again experienced it.
by Edie Tucker
Below is a touching story about Dürer's Praying Hands that is circulated widely.
It tells of Dürer doing
his creation in appreciation of a brother whom went to work
in the mines to support Albrecht's education.
Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen
children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith
by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue
their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to
Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact.
They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he
attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the
other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off
to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at
the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those
of most of his professors were, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned
When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on
their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter,
Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of
sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, "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."
All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming
down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no
Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the
faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg.
It is too late for me. Look ... 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 ...
me it is too late."
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen
and silver-point sketches, watercolours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world,
but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely
being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.
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."
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you
still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!
Even though the story is fiction,
I hope the intent of the story is appreciated,
whether true or not.