Five of Pentacles
For I was in need of food, and you gave it not to me; I was in need of drink, and you gave it not to me: I was wandering, and you took me not in; without clothing, and you gave me no clothing; ill, and in prison, and you came not to me.
Then will they make answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food or drink, or wandering, or without clothing, or ill, or in prison, and did not take care of you? Then will he make answer to them, saying, Truly I say to you, Because you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.
— The Christian Bible, Book of Matthew, Chapter 25, 42 – 45
From last week’s Four of Pentacles, we now encounter the Five. It seems to be a frequent visitor to our weekly check-in, having only just appeared back in October. You can read one of my previous posts about it here.
I find the sequence of these two cards interesting. We go from the intensely protective, even miserly stance of the figure in last week’s Four to the image of what happens when that protection fails. The Fives are usually about challenge and adversity, and here we see tremendous adversity regarding material needs: homelessness, illness, poverty, and being left out in the cold.
Interestingly, Jan. 21 has been called Blue Monday. Dr. Cliff Arnall, a researcher from Cardiff University, has come up with a formula that claims that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year. A combination of unpaid Christmas bills, low motivation, the post-holiday letdown, depressing weather, and failed New Year’s resolutions make this day the gloomiest in the calendar.
In addition, the obvious interpretation this week is how we may continue to find money very tight, resources unavailable, and financial difficulty. Gas prices continue to climb. The sub-prime mortgage crisis continues to ripple its poison into the marketplace. Unemployment is up. Retailers’ hopes for a holiday bonanza were disappointing at best. Last year, the foreclosure rate in the U.S. doubled. The global markets are suffering as all signs continue to point to a U.S. recession.
On a more human scale, this card may be a reminder that on any given night, approximately 744,000 men, women, and children are homeless in the US. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 2.5 to 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year, including 1.35 million children. Despite all the patriotic posturing, it is estimated that between 23 and 40 percent of homeless adults are our military veterans.
This week, in the deepest cold of Winter, look around you. Who is shut out of the American dream? Who is sick, lonely, lost? In what ways are you or the people around you, being left out in the dark night of despair?
Let the warning in this card encourage us to redouble our efforts and awareness. May the healing and light of welcoming be given to those in need. May hope be restored.
If there is no door that you can see, make one.