It had not rained on the prairie for several months. Because of the drought, the climate had become very arid. There was no moisture left in the soil. No crops could grow in the dry ground. By wintertime, the people had nothing to eat.
The hungry families heard about an abbey near the mountains where food and water was still abundant. So they traveled inland, across the prairie, to the abbey.
At first only a few families arrived, seeking food and shelter. Then there was ample food. The monks fed them and let them sleep in the small cathedral.
Soon, however, more families were arriving every day. These people had to travel farther, so they were in worse condition. The rugged journey had made their clothes ragged. They were cold and tired. The tiny cathedral was soon full.
Food became scarce. The monks began to grumble. They began to speculate that there would be no food. “If more families come, we won’t make it through the winter,” said a young monk. “We must ask some of them to leave.”
The abbot heard this. “We cannot do that,” he said. “It would be wrong to deprive them of food and shelter. We took an oath to help those that need help. All here are in need, so all are eligible to receive our food and shelter.”
“But we won’t have enough,” the monk said.
“That might be true, but we must help them nonetheless. We will fast,” the abbot replied. “Also, we will give our rooms in the abbey to those sleeping outside, and we will sleep in the churchyard that adjoins the cathedral.”
The monks were reluctant at first, but they did what the oldest monk said. By the end of winter, there was still enough food and shelter for everyone. They learned that sometimes helping others means you must give more help than you first expected.