A long time ago, there was an old man who lived all alone. He had a small one room cabin near the spookiest woods you ever did see. The trees were so close together that the man could barely squeeze between them when he went out to pick berries, hunt animals, or try his luck at some fishing in the river.
Now this old man, he had but one wish; to meet someone who could explain to him the meaning of life. So his favorite thing was to look for anyone to talk to when he was doing his fishing down by the river’s edge. The river was the only form of transportation people used around those parts, so he did see a raft or boat every now and then during his time casting his fishing line.
One day, the man noticed a small sailboat coming down the river. There was a young man working the sail while talking to a dog that was accompanying him. As they neared the old man, he motioned the young man that he would like to have a word with him. The young man through out an anchor and stopped alongside the shoreline.
“Yes, my good friend, how can I help you,” the young man asked, the dog barking all the while.
“I was wondering if you might give me your opinion on something, sir?” the old man asked.
“Sure. No problem there. My wife says I’m always spouting off my opinion. Guess I shouldn’t waste it all on just here ears, huh?”
“Well, I’m gettin’ up in years, and I ain’t too sure how many years I got left to go…so I was wonderin’…well what do you think the meaning to life is? I mean, why’ we here? And what’s the most important thing?” the old man asked, bowing his head and thinking the young man would consider him a fool.
“Well that’s an easy one, my friend. We’re here because things just happen. Ain’t no rhyme or reason to it. Life’s what we make of it. Some towns got good rules, and the people live well. Some places, well they ain’t got good rules and the people live like savages. See, life is all about good government. If the people pick the right leaders, then life has more meaning. Pick bad leaders, well life ain’t gonna be so good. My wife and me, we live in a good place. So, to sum it up; I would say the meaning to life is about finding a good place to live.”
“Thanks, sir,” the old man replied. “I do appreciate you takin’ the time to answer my question. “Sad thing is; I live alone. Ain’t got me no government to pick leaders for.”
“Well, there you have it. You must try and find a town to join. You have to be a part of a group dedicated to the gathered people. That is where you’ll find the meaning of life. I wish you well.”
And with those last comments, the young man sailed on down river, his dog barking away.
Well, the old man didn’t think much of the young man’s answer to his question, so he kept on fishing and looking out for any other travelers coming down the river.
It was only a short time later that the old man noticed a woman swimming downstream. The woman looked as fit as any young woman he had ever laid eyes on. He called out to her and she swam up to the shoreline. “Hello, sir, can I be of some assistance?” The bright-eyed beauty replied, climbing out to the water.
“Why, yes, yes you can. I was wonderin’…as I have been for quite some time now, can you tell me what the meaning of life is? Though I have been around a long time, I’ve never really decided exactly what that is. Might you have the answer? I’d be much grateful if you did.”
“Oh, sir, I do, I do know the meaning of life and why we are here. It is to serve the earth and her spirit. We are the stewards of this land. We must worship the trees, the animals, the moon, and the sun. All these things work in harmony to give us what we need…”
Before the woman could finish her words, a giant alligator tried to catch her in his jaws, but the woman was too fast and ran toward the woods. The trees were so close together that she got stuck in between two of them and the alligator ate the young woman. The old man could not save her.
Once again, the old man felt as though the answer the young lady gave was lacking. The very nature she had said was the meaning of life had devoured her in seconds, and it was a nasty devouring.
Suddenly, and without warning, a man close to the same age as the old man came walking out of the woods. He asked the old man how the fishing was in this area.
“It’s been good. I’ve caught three fish in the last hour or so.”
“And have you found the answer you’ve been looking for?” the man asked.
“How did you know ‘bout that, sir?” the old man asked.
“Well, let’s just say I know a lot about what goes on down here. Whether it be the naming of a new mayor or the birth of a new calf, I know. Governments or earthquakes, I know. Not much honor in creating something you don’t care about, is there?” the man replied.
“Are you…then you must be…so, that means…”
“Yes, I am the answer you seek. I am the call to action seated above the governments of man and the earthly beauty some like to worship. I am the reason you breathe and the One who gives purpose to that breath. I am here because your efforts to discover me have been sincere and unselfish. The man on the sailboat you spoke with was once at my side, but he left my teachings and made his own rules. The woman you talked to was once a committed follower, but she found more glory in the creation than the Creator, and haughtiness became her best friend.”
The old man fell to his knees, and with his head bowed, he asked on more question: “How can I serve you , Lord?”
The Lord lifted the man up by his shoulders and said, “Turn this river of deceit into a call of action. Build yourself a boat that you can use to travel these waters. And when people approach you with the same question you needed answered, be there for them. Tell them about today.”
“But Lord, I am an old man. My days or short in numbers,” the old man replied.”
“The two that you asked about me…they were young, yet they were not working to spread the truth about me. The wisdom of an old man who has met with me can accomplish a great deal once he understands and accepts Heavenly wisdom as the root of all real knowledge.”
“So I should start building a boat right away, Lord.”
“Exactly, replied the Lord. That’s why I made your forest so thick, plenty of trees to choose from without disrupting the animals’ habitat or causing the mayor of your nearest town from fearing too much logging.” God answered with a wink and a chuckle.