John Steinbeck is one of those classic novelists that you always feel you should have read. Most high school students are exposed to at least one of his works - usually Of Mice and Men or Grapes of Wrath. I vaguely remember Of Mice and Men probably because we watched the movie as well as read the book. I don't recall which year that was.
This month's book club selection is John Steinbeck's The Pearl - his modification of a folktale where a man finds a pearl only to discover his supposed wealth leaves his life in danger. Steinbeck transposes the young, single hero of the original to a middle-aged man with a wife and baby son. The dangers posed to the original finder of the pearl are now increased to include the threat to both the man and his family.
At the end of the story, the pearl is returned to the sea but the story is about the ethical decisions made when wealth becomes a higher priority than life. At the same time, I was extremely saddened at the obvious disregard the rich have for the poor and the greed for men to become richer at the expense of their fellowman. I do not believe the desires and dreams of the pearl-finder were wrong - who does not wish for a better life for oneself and one's family? But are we truly more likely to place those desires ahead of the simple necessities when the two come into conflict?
Facing difficult times in our own economic situation at this time makes me acutely aware of the desire to just be able to enjoy the basic necessities. With Neil out of work and his severance pay now gone, the house in foreclosure, and the savings slowly but surely dwindling, what is truly important to our family?
I have determined that I do not want to move because of the inconvenience of finding another place to live and moving all our stuff - it is not about the house itself. I rejoice in having the ability to have gotten all the children in to see the doctor before the insurance coverage ended. I am grateful that we have been thrifty even when we appeared to have the means to be extravagent. And mostly, I appreciate the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father that while these economic situations are inconvenient, I have been blessed with feelings of peace and contentment rather than stress and worry.