Worship must have been

Brutal, then

Fierce dancing to fierce rhythm

All sorts of things prepared

To sacrifice to God

Where the divine had any interest

In such rites

(how did they know?)

Ready to let blood

Human wine

For penance and redemption

In the world where crops were

Eradicated too easily

Enemies banded ‘round to take out

Any towns or collections of

Humanity trying to set along

The river’s edge or in the center of

Even a place of hiding

Too easily exposed


Or maybe it was grand

A city on a hill

Still the gods need something of us

To turn attention there

To give us weather

Or health enough

To go another year


No notion of indifference

A neatly civilized invention

The worship here

Must match

Barbaric nature with the

Barbaric parts of us

There was awful authenticity

Because the only choice

Was awe

This was a fearful task

Reaching a god

To know its name

To know what it wants

Or left to guessing the rituals

Demanded in a world of

Circling barbarity

With no neat form, no room for

Showing up

Life was on the line

To hope in every baleful way

That God might answer


We don’t want it back

Why should we?

Though we’ve lost the awe

In awesome,

The part that means to fear the Lord

Not as in scared

(though that)

But in respect that God is there

Might be set over a scale

Might be listening

Not for what’s refined

Something that’s raw

As from the scoured human heart

The table might be symbol

But inside, where the marks are

God can reside

Wildly there


So what do we do

At evening or at sunrise?

Or when we feel we’ve wakened up


We can find God

Too easily

Before we’re ready

We might have a sibling conflict

Or no notion of our Sunday best

God will take us on

Together, one by one

Maybe not fierce worship

But something honest

Tears rather than


Focus rather than rage

Though through it all, whatever,

Love as well as fear

For God is God

Not wanting us to quake


But recalling first obedience

Afterward, attending

To the second


Have worship, then

Leave afterward

Taking something of the altar

With you

Like a burning coal set inside

Something that will never burn


The part of God that’s present

Not without expectation

Not always well-behaved

But always loved


Come back to me

Come back again

I am with you now


C L Couch



Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash