MidReal Story

Monastery's Water Quest: A Tale of Unity

Scenario: One monk carries water to drink, two monks lift water to drink, three monks have no water to drink.
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One monk carries water to drink, two monks lift water to drink, three monks have no water to drink.
In the desert, a man’s life was worth no more than a cup of water.
The day was harsh, the sun relentless in its assault on our backs, and the journey we were making seemed almost impossible.
And yet here we were, walking the rugged path that led to the fields outside our remote monastery.
Each of us carried two goatskin bags filled with precious water, one hanging off either side of our camel’s saddle.
Despite the considerable heat and the burden on our backs, Brother Thomas and I had been walking for only an hour, and already I could feel fresh blisters forming on my heels.
My sandals were caked with dust from the dry, arid land we were traversing.
The path ahead was obscured by the cloud of sand kicked up by our camel’s hooves.
It covered everything around us in a fine layer of dirt that made it look as though we were walking through a misty landscape.
Brother Thomas was ahead of me, humming a tune softly to himself, seemingly oblivious to anything else.
I called out to him but he didn’t respond, so I grabbed his shoulder to get his attention.
He turned back to face me, his face flushed with the effort of keeping pace with our camel, and smiled.
“You’re walking too slowly,” he said.
“Pick up your feet or I’ll be forced to leave you behind.”
I scowled at him and adjusted the straps on my sandals before continuing.
He chuckled as he turned back around, his broad shoulders rising and falling with each step he took.
“Is it true,” he said after a moment, “that before you became a monk you used to be a fisherman?”
“Yes,” I replied.
He’d been pestering me about my past ever since he arrived at the monastery six months ago.
“Tell me what it’s like to catch fish,” he said eagerly.
I chuckled and shook my head at his question.
There’s not much to tell, I’m afraid,” I said.
“But I’ll share a story with you if it will make the time go faster.”
He nodded, but I could tell from the way he shifted on his feet that he didn’t want just any story—he wanted to know what it was like to be a fisherman.
So I told him the following story, and by the time I’d finished it, we’d made it halfway to the fields where all the other monks would be waiting for the water we carried in our goatskin bags:
A long time ago, in the city of Alexandria, there lived a poor fisherman who had a very beautiful wife and two young children.
The fisherman had built himself a small boat that he would take out onto the ocean every day to catch fish to sell at the market.
But no matter how hard he tried, he could never seem to catch enough fish to make ends meet, and his family always went hungry.
One evening, when the fisherman had caught nothing at all, he sat down on the beach and cried out to God, “Why do you forsake me, Lord?”
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I’m afraid it’s not allowed,” I said.
He scowled at me and asked, “Is this a true story or not?”
“Yes, it is,” I replied.
A man who had been walking along the beach overheard the fisherman’s cry and stopped to speak to him.
“Don’t worry, my friend,” he said.
“I am a monk, and God has sent me to help you find a way to make a living for yourself and your family.”
The monk and the fisherman sat on the beach and talked for many hours, and when they were finished, the fisherman thanked the monk and set out to sea in his boat once more.
He had no idea how anything would change, but he knew that things could not get any worse for his family than they already were, so he was willing to try anything at all.
That night, after a long and fruitless day of fishing, the fisherman sat down in his boat and prayed to God, asking Him to guide him to a place where he might find enough food to sustain his family.
When he woke the next morning, the fisherman was surprised to discover that his boat had been pulled ashore in the night.
He looked around and saw that he had landed in a fishing village, and all around him, the fishermen were going about their daily business.
The fisherman rose from his boat and went to speak with a man who was standing on the shore.
“I am a poor fisherman from the city of Alexandria, and I have come in search of food for my family,” he said.
The man nodded and told the fisherman that he was welcome to take as much fish as he needed, so long as he promised to return to the village every year and do the same for others in need.
The fisherman was so grateful for the man’s help that he agreed without hesitation, and he returned home that same day with a boat full of fresh fish to feed his family.
“Is that really what it was like?”
Brother Thomas asked when I’d finished telling him the story.
“It is,” I replied.
“And you got the idea to become a monk from this story?”
“I did,” I said.
“But not just from the story itself.
There was something about the way the monk helped the fisherman, something I can’t quite describe, that spoke to me.
It made me realize that there was more to life than war and violence, and it is what ultimately inspired me to join this brotherhood.”
We walked in silence for some time after that, the only sound being the soft padding of our sandals on the dusty path beneath our feet.
After awhile, Brother Thomas looked back at me and said, “My feet hurt.”
I nodded sympathetically.
“So do mine.”
We continued walking for several minutes more until we reached the top of a small incline.
When we finally made our way down the other side of it, I saw something unusual off in the distance: a wild goat perched on a rocky outcrop.
It was staring at us intently, its eyes narrowed as though it were trying to figure out what we were.
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“Look,” I said to Brother Thomas, pointing to the goat.
He followed my finger and let out an excited gasp.
“It’s beautiful,” he said.
“Do you think it’s a male or a female?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied.
“But either way, it’s a rare sight.
There aren’t many wild goats in these parts, and it’s even rarer to see one up close like this.”
The majestic creature seemed to be watching us closely as we approached.
It didn’t seem to be afraid of us; in fact, it almost looked as though it were daring us to come closer.
We stopped a few feet away from it and stood there for a moment, admiring its beauty.
Then we continued on our way.
“Why do you think it was staring at us like that?”
Brother Thomas asked as we walked.
“I’m not sure,” I replied.
“But it was almost as though it wanted to tell us something.”
We walked in silence for a few moments more before Brother Thomas spoke again.
Do you think we’ll see it again?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“But I hope so.
It was truly a wondrous sight.”
We walked in silence for the next hour or so, the sun beating down on us with such intensity that I could feel my skin starting to burn.
Our water supply had dwindled considerably by then, and the goatskin bags felt much lighter than they had when we’d set out from the monastery that morning.
I knew that if we were lucky, there might be enough left to give each of the monks in the fields a small sip to quench their thirst.
But there wouldn’t be enough to go around if any of them wanted more than that; and after such a long journey, I knew they would want much more than just a sip.
And there certainly wouldn’t be enough left for us to drink on the way back.
As the realization sunk in, I felt a wave of despair wash over me.
We had walked for so long and come so far, but it seemed as though our efforts would be in vain.
How would we ever make it back to the monastery without any water?
But then I thought of the monks who were waiting for us in the fields.
The ones who had been working since sunrise to plant the crops that would feed us all winter.
They were depending on us to bring them water, and we couldn’t let them down.
We couldn’t let any of them down.
Determined to press on no matter what, I picked up my pace and continued walking.
We walked for several more hours before we finally reached the fields where the other monks were laboring under the hot sun.
It was a heartbreaking sight: they were all so dirty and exhausted from their hard work that they could barely stand.
But when they saw us coming, they perked up and smiled as best they could.
We hurried over to them and gave each of them a small sip of water to drink before refilling our containers from the communal well.
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