Have you ever felt like a grain of rice? Small, invisible, swept away in a crowd of others with no one to notice?
I know you’re thinking, “Kat’s got serious” or “Kat’s cracked”… either works, I guess.
I’m like that one, up in the left-hand corner, just below the one that’s at a funky tilt and next to the 3 stuck in a sort of triangle. What, you can’t tell which one it is? Oh…
That feels like my life.
Really, though, I know I’m not the only one. I’ve heard it so many times, “I feel like a grain of sand” or “I’m just one atom out of the trillions in this room” (from the geeks) or “I’m one little brush stroke on the great canvas that is the world” (from the artists) or “I’m just dirt” (brutally frank without bothering with creativity).
And I’m so sorry.
Because we aren’t dirt. We are unique (isn’t there something so special in knowing you’ll never meet another you, a dupe of yourself?). We are God’s handiwork, with a little “handmade by God” stamp on us (I mean, seriously, can it possibly get more wonderful and exciting than that??). Yes, it can and it does. We are made in the image of the infinite Creator. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Wow. I get a thrill of awe every time I read that.
But it’s hard to remember, staring at the hurt and the pain, at the brokenness and the loneliness, at the shards of what once was your heart.
It’s hard to remember when you feel like rice, being swept away into the trash can.
The Rice Grain Project
I thought how easily overlooked we rice grains feel, how neglected and forgotten and uncared for. We skitter under toe kicks, get thrown into trash cans, or simply fall away between one place and another. And I got an idea.
Today, I ran an experiment. I tried to take care of a grain of rice. (Please don’t commit me to a home right now!)
I toted it around with me. Everywhere. I didn’t allow myself to leave it somewhere or really let it out of my sight, like many people are with their phones. I ate lunch with it, brushed my teeth with it, wrote with it.
My first rice grain, Jericho (don’t ask me why I called him that; I just did), didn’t last for an hour.
My second, Arphaxad, managed almost 5 hours.
I’m on my 3rd now (Samson, featured above). He’s probably a leeetle worried after how his predecessors fared. But he’s teaching me something, as were they all.
The Rice Grain Project. You don’t really think about how hard it might be to baby a grain of rice. It’s too small to put in your pocket without high risk of losing it. I lost Jericho due a disastrous lunch. He got folded up in the tablecloth and shaken out in the yard. They’re also too small to carry around in your hand conveniently, either. In fact, there is nothing convenient about toting a grain of rice.
We all have people in our lives that feel like grains of rice (though we don’t often know it). And sometimes we need to show them we haven’t put them in our pocket, haven’t dropped them, haven’t shaken them out in the yard. Even when we feel like we have been.
Taking care of Jericho and Arphaxad and now Samson taught me something fascinating. From the outside, there is nothing attractive in a rice grain, no draw that makes people (other than wackos like me) randomly decide to make one a pet. But after awhile, I became attached to them in a way. Losing poor Arphaxad (an accidental and irrecoverable drop on the rice-colored carpet) almost broke my heart. I needed my rice grain, I had to take care of it, it would be gone forever down some invisible void if I didn’t look after it anymore. (Now you can commit me, if you like. Just please remember to do it with a small packet of rice)
In a weird, twisted, psychotic way, those little grains of nothing much had suddenly become the world to me. They meant and represented so much. Taking care of them was almost… therapeutic? Like giving them what I so badly wanted was soothing in a way. Everyone needs to take care of something. The Rice Grain Project was shocking to me. I set out just to see “how long I could manage”, facing the frustration of carrying it around and the hassle of looking after it with open curious eyes. I wasn’t prepared for becoming fond and protective of my rice, kind of regretting the end of the experiment, when I would put Samson, the last survivor, back in his box.
Rice grains are special.
All of us.
From Samson, to Jericho, to the ones I didn’t touch or name, to me.
Each grain is unique. Like snowflakes. And sand. And tumbleweed. And people.
I just want to leave you with this, if nothing else:
You are never too lost in the sea of rice to be picked up and carried around, never too blending in to be special to someone, never too identical to not retain unique identity, never too small to be rescued from the trash can, never too insignificant for someone to take notice and take care of. You are God’s creation, and He won’t let you go, won’t drop you (like I so carelessly did with the first few of my rice grains), won’t lose or misplace you like so many humans do, nor place you in His pocket. He is infinite, which means He can direct a universe and carry around billions of rice grains in His hands and hold all the atoms that make up everything together without a stretching Himself. And though you are only one of the many, He knows you and cares for you and you are special to Him, little speck of a grain of nothing-much-rice.
I love the way N. D. Wilson puts this in his book, Death By Living;
Your world is tiny, yes, but God gets tinier… You have the Creator God’s full attention, as much as He ever gave Napoleon. Or Churchill. Or even Moses. Or billions of others who lived and died unknown. Or a grain of sand. Or one spike on one snowflake. You are spoken. You are seen. It is your turn to participate in creation. Like a kindergartener shoved out from behind the curtain during his first play, you might not know which scene you are in or what comes next, but God is far less patronizing than we are. You are His art, and He has no trouble stooping.
You can even ask Him for your lines.
I hope each of you has the chance to be picked up by a friend and toted around. Sometimes, grains of rice need the chance to be pets. Have a great rest of your week, folks!