Most of the rice is now heavy with grain, almost ready to harvest, but not quite. Much of it needs a bit more time to finish growing. But this last little bit of time has its own problems.

The grain is so heavy that storms can blow the stalks over, burying the grain in the dirt. There are large swaths of the fields here where this has happened after one particularly heavy rain. The farmers have gone out and stood up the grain again, carefully tying stalks together so that they can reinforce each other as they finish ripening.

Though alone, no stalk can stand, together they are very strong. What is more, there is no stalk left unattended, yet the farmers do not trample any stalks in rescuing them. So much care is taken in bringing in the crop.

I was suddenly struck this morning by the Gospel reading at mass from Matthew 11: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." I am this rice. So tired, so bent sometimes by storms, almost ready to give up and melt into the dust; but also almost ready to yield my harvest, to say something, but not quite; needing more time, yes, but also needing some care, some help to get where God wants me to be.

And God always helps. God has always been there for me; and today I can feel God picking me up from the dust and standing me back up so that I can continue to grow.

God does this by tying me to other people who are also struggling, who have also fallen and need picked back up. God ties us together, and we lean on each other, and continue, together, to grow towards harvest time.