The Meaning of Life…is All Around Us


Dear Reader:

I remember one particular visit to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope in Trust, NC…soon after discovering the beautiful little chapel in the woods…Honey and I walked around to the back of the chapel where this merry little stream was flowing happily over rocks and around bends…babbling as loudly as it could in seeming delight.

There had apparently been a storm earlier before we arrived because several branches from overhanging trees were lying on the banks. I remember picking one up…and cautiously stepping onto one visible rock near the bank while thrusting the long stick/branch into the swirling waters.

I felt like a child again….the power of the water and gravity pulling the springs felt absolutely delightful in my hands…holding tightly to the stick so it wouldn’t get pulled from my grasp.

For those few precious minutes I was completely in a different zone…it was as if I truly understood the meaning behind this little stream and the powerful spirit within it…living and loving life as it pounded the rocks and occasionally splashed over the embankments.

It was a living sacred force…just like me…just like everything in life…with meaning inside it. That memory, that “ah-ha” moment, has stuck with me for many years now.


So when I found this short anecdote in Mark Nepo’s book- The One Life We’re Given...the memory of my earlier experience came rushing back.

The force and meaning of life are everywhere around us… if we just stop long enough to discover it.




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 to 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.


So until tomorrow….

“We are just not to stay alive…but to stay in our aliveness.” (Nepo)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Eloise is already learning the tricks of the trade when it comes to motherhood…push your baby in the swing with one hand while talking on your toy phone with the other…multi-tasking…wondered where she learned that? 🙂





About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Meaning of Life…is All Around Us

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Love this saying…not just being alive but enjoying your aliveness ….


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