A Lesson in Leather


Shortly after moving into our new home, I decided to take up the art of leather crafting. It is something that I had been accustomed to doing as a younger man when I worked for my Grandfather-rancher.

Seems as if we were always tearing up a saddle fender or a pair of chaps, so learning to mend these items was of some importance especially when we were miles away from the main house and town.

My first order of business was to go out and search the leather shops around the county for the ‘perfect’ piece of hide. I wanted to cover my personal journal in bull-hide.

Rough, strong, manly.

While I searched I also purchased the needed tools and supplies. This did not take me very long. I opted not to use one of those ‘cookie-cutter’ kits that a person can buy.

Instead I vowed to measure, mark, and cut and stitch my rawhide journal cover from scratch. The entire process took me two evenings after work to complete. I even managed to eat dinner and watch television and still accomplish my goal. I was very proud of myself. I showed it to my wife. She was properly impressed by my skill.

My son liked it so much that he wanted the cover for himself.

Needless to say I would not surrender my craftsmanship to him no matter how much I love him. The true test came when I placed it on my journal. I like to use the composition books that can be purchased for a little bit of nothing come the start of the school year.

It was a snug fit, but I told myself that it would stretch out with a little more time and use. The following morning I sat down at my desk to start my first entry and I discovered a serious flaw in my new cover.

The leather edge inside the journal created a noticeable bump that was difficult to write over. It gradually went away as I filled the pages.

That was at the front of the journal. The same problem made itself known as I came to the end of the journal.

I was dismayed at my lack of planning for such an occurrence.

Within days I had run out of ideas on how to alleviate the situation. I used a piece of discarded leather as a backstop, but lost it to the dog that found it to be a rather enjoyable chew toy.

I used a piece of cardboard stripped from a box. This simply looked cheesy and would not do.

Eventually, I stopped using my leather journal cover. I placed in a box and marked it for storage. Then I simply forgot about it.

Just after the attack on the World Trade Center Towers, I concluded that I should return to church. My faith in life seemed shaken. I watched in horror as those buildings crumbled into dense clouds of dust with the knowledge that very few people would survive the carnage.

My life seemed to parallel this event. I had turned my life into a garbage dump, wreaking havoc with my family and friends. I searched for my long forgotten bible. I discovered that it was gone, lost and I had to purchase a new one.

Every Sunday, I sit in church and listened for new meaning. Slowly I have reemerged and discovered that under the rubble I had created was a brand new man. I started sitting down and reading my bible on a daily basis.

It is enjoyable.

However my new bible’s cover was getting thrashed. So I decided I would see about buying one of those fancy canvass covers. But as life would have it, I did not get around to it as quickly as I could have.

Instead I found my time better used at getting rid of all the junk I have saved up like treasure in my garage. That meant going through box after box of stuff. That’s when I found my old hand-made, good for nothing leather journal cover.

I looked at it and decided to toss it in the ‘too go’ box.

Later that night my son came to me and said he wanted to show me something. I followed him to his room.

There on the computer table was a handsomely bound bible. I open it up and discover that it was my bible.

Curious to where he came up with the cover, I asked him. He told me that it was in one of the many boxes I had set out to be carried away to the Sally Ann Store.

Right then and there I realized that there is always new life even amid the garbage of living. God had to teach me that with an old piece of leather.

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