“A Handful of Rice,” Ensign, Apr. 1993, 58–59
The chilling rain swept down the mountainside as our small group struggled up the rocky trail. Our muscles were worn, our strength was depleted, and the hot spots on our feet had turned to blisters.
To complete an outdoor leadership course, we needed to hike from the desert floor to a high mountain pass in a rugged and remote area of southern Utah.
We had had little to eat for several days, and hunger gnawed at us constantly. Events seemed to occur in slow motion. The goal of reaching the mountain pass, where we would be resupplied with fresh food, seemed impossible to achieve.
However, I had saved a small handful of rice. Even the thought of it was reassuring. Others in the group had finished their food long ago. Surely, if anyone reached the pass, I would, because I had the rice!
The day wore on. The trail became steeper. We passed our limit of endurance and could go no farther. Our enthusiasm and strength had been spent on the steep upward climb.
When our leader called a halt to the march, I knew this was my chance. Hastily I built a fire, and I poured the rice into a pop can. As I peered down, my hopes dissipated, for there was only a modest amount of rice in the can. But I remembered that the addition of water and heat would swell the rice considerably.
I noticed the other members of the group edging toward my fire. I avoided their eyes. I was, after all, under no obligation to share. They had eaten their rations, while I had carefully saved these few grains of rice to see me through the final stage of the journey. Moreover, just a taste for each person would not give any of us enough strength to continue.
Time seemed to stop as the rice cooked—and then my decision was made. I pulled the precious rice away from the fire on which I had cooked it, offered a prayer of gratitude, and passed the container around the circle. Each person took a spoonful. As the last piece of rice was scraped from the bottom of the can, something unexpected happened.
Through participating in the process of sharing, we felt a new spirit of brotherhood, and love for one another filled our exhausted bodies with new warmth and strength.
The strength we gathered from sharing was a gift of the Spirit. It enabled us to continue our climb. We reached the high mountain pass.
It was nothing, really—just a few grains of rice. But for more than twenty years, that shared can of half-cooked rice has continued to warm and strengthen my spirit—and remembering that experience helps me realize that we are always blessed when we share.