Axel was just a hard working guy. Education had not really been his strong suit as far as school was concerned. He was literate enough, but his real strength was reading. Books or the usual things one relates to reading, couldn’t hold a candle to Axel’s ability to read people.
Standing 5 ft. 10 inches tall, slender of build, muscular, weighing in at maybe 160 lbs., dark complected with traces of Latin or African American, penetrating eyes, a rugged completion lined with experience, skin very porous adding to that tough, masculine look. Hair cut almost to the scalp resembling a Brillo pad, clean shaven every other day.
First glance would make one think he might be sad, but only until he spoke. A million dollar smile which immediately transformed his face into the kind soul he is, caught all newcomers off guard. This is what kept them coming back.
He was an enigma. It is like the mystery of the moth that just can’t stay away from the flame. It keeps coming back until it is consumed.
As a leather craftsman Axel was very good. Perhaps not the best, yet in every way he was a true craftsman with his work and creations. One of his best customers had also become a friend. The opposite of Axel, in terms of social and financial position. Benjamin seemed to have it all.
The two became friends years ago when Benjamin was looking for a wall hanging made of leather for his father. He had been referred to Axel by a very satisfied customer. The resulting leather piece had not disappointed, and hangs in the patriarchal home to date.
A family of five, Axel has two daughters and a son. They have been raised on respect and love, knowing the difference between the value of material goods and that of relationships.
Benjamin has one son, who has wanted for nothing. Yet there is the typical strife of one who has known no boundaries, yet who’s behavior constantly demonstrates a crying out for limits.
Axel has noted for some time the stress and unhappiness in Benjamin’s eyes. Knowing the challenges with his son, he clearly understands the origin, yet also knows his boundaries with his friend.
Not certain what to do, Axel is inspired with an idea he believes will touch Ben’s heart with the truth, while staying within the limits of friendship.
All other work is put aside as Alex feverishly works on creating what may be his best work in leather. His passion to touch his friend in a way words couldn’t drives him. For days on end he is consumed with his project, setting aside all other work.
As Axel senses Ben is nearly at his wits end with his son, the project is finished. He invites Ben for a cup of coffee. While they have been friends for years, they have never met socially, so Ben is somewhat surprised at the request.
As they sit down at a table with their various brews, Ben notices the rather large package Axel has brought with him. Curious, Ben is more interested in the occasion than the package. He has no idea that Axel is up to anything.
On various occasions Ben has met Axel’s children at the shop, always impressed with the maturity, respect and love shown to their father. Jealousness has never been a part of their relation, yet a heavy heart for Ben as he has wished for a son that would be after his own heart.
As they sipped coffee and talked of superficial things, Ben finally sensed there was a reason for their meeting, and pressed Axel as to why.
Anxious for the moment, not a word was spoken as the package was handed to Ben. With some suspicion and surprise, Ben first searched his friends face for clues as to what might be in this package.
Carefully, he unwrapped the brown paper covering. The aroma of treated leather met his nostrils, as he took in the most amazing leather work he had ever seen. A message was hand tooled into a finely tanned work of art, set in a frame equally ornate yet appropriate.
Tears began to appear, as Ben read, then re-read the message. It was simple, yet full of all the meaning needed. It said, “Love never fails! So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The one thing that was missing in Ben’s life was now being clearly demonstrated by Axel. All the material possessions, position, things, could not give the one thing Ben didn’t even know was missing, until this exact moment. It was at this very point he realized what was the key to reaching not only his son, rather all those in his life.
While the story is fictional, the point is not. Success was measured in love, not in things. Are you successful?