The relationship between money, which is outer richness, and soul, which is inner richness, can easily confuse us. The Bible frequently delves into this paradox which has always been so much a part of all of our lives. For example, as Jesus Christ starts for Jerusalem he is approached by a wealthy man who asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus tells him to observe the Commandments, but the man says he has observed them from his youth. Then Jesus says, “sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But the man has great wealth and departs in sorrow. Of all those whom Jesus specifically invited to follow him, only this wealthy man refused.
Jesus then observes that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” So the largest beast in Judea can more easily pass through the smallest opening than a rich man discover the wealth of his inner life. Why should this be so?
The problem is easy to state but not so easy to understand or resolve in our daily lives. Because money has its origins in exchanges with the divine, it lends itself to the belief that it is the source of well-being and abundance. In this way, money appears to be the divine source. Thinking this way makes us worship money rather than the richness within ourselves.
Editing is a fascinating process. My novel-in-progress has evolved from what I originally conceived. As that inevitable evolution occurs, passages that might be well-written no longer work and have to be edited out (or abandoned, which is how I sometimes feel to let go of a passage I like)
My narrator, Thea, is an analyst who has gone on a lengthy retreat to a healing center in the Adirondacks. Andreas, the director of this center, was once a teacher of hers when she studied to be an analyst. Thinking how similar emotional wounds may lead to very different outcomes, she says:
It called to mind the seminar on archetypes that he had taught. Achilles, dangled by his goddess mother in the fire of immortality, would always be vulnerable in the heel untouched by the flames. The soldier Philoctetes endured a snake bite on his foot that gave a stench so horrible the Greek armies abandoned him on the island of Lemnos as they journeyed to besiege the high walls of Troy. But, although both warriors were wounded in a foot, their stories couldn’t have been more different. Achilles died from the bowshot of Paris. Philoctetes, on the other hand, was rescued by his comrades, cured, and showed his valor in the climactic fall of Troy.
Why does this have to be cut? To me the passage feels expository, obscure, and abstract. Beyond this, the course of the novel changed after this passage was written. It no longer served well to explain Andreas, his history and his concerns.
One challenge of writing is to abandon not only passages, but the sentiment that makes me want to stay attached to what I’ve written. Instead, I value the imaginative provocations that rigorously shape and reshape fiction.