A troubled widower made his way to ask a wise old woman about his troubles.The old woman received him and they walked along a stream. She could see the pain in his face.
He began to tremble as he asked, "What's the point? Is there any meaning to life?"
She invited him to sit on a large stone near the stream. She took a long branch and swirled it in the water, then replied, "It all depends on what it means to you to be alive."
In his sorrow, the man dropped his shoulders and the old woman gave him the branch.
"Go on," she said, "touch the branch into the water." As he poked the branch in the running stream, there was something comforting about feeling the water in his hand through the branch. She touched his hand and said, "You see, that you can feel the water without putting your hand in the water, this is what meaning feels like."
The troubled man seemed puzzled.
She said, "Close your eyes and feel your wife now gone. That you can feel her in your heart without being able to touch her, this is how meaning saves us."
The widower began to cry. The old woman put her arm around him,
"No one knows how to live or how to die. We only know how to love and how to lose, and how to pick up branches of meaning along the way.
Mark Novak is co-founder of The MultiFaith Storytelling Institute