I talk you talk we'll talk




(x = space)





Just as if I had

Never sinned,

That’s how I was taught

The word

Like at-one-ment


Hope in the small things,


Though these are words

Behind which are big things

That sanctify

(big word)




You see, the small things count

The extra sleep

The better cup of coffee

The crispy toast

I live for these

And things like these


But there are the big things

Like repentance,


The kind of things that bring

The prodigal home,

That cause a feast

Once sealed back into family


There are the things

That don’t require

Big words

Faith, hope, and love

But might need bigger understanding

Or maybe only

Pay attention


God is simple, too

Three letters, three parts

And one

Anything that’s three and one

Helps to explain it

The shamrock

The states of water,

As you know


The simple

The profound

The rest for exercise


We sin

We can make it up

We can be snow

Or lightless night

We are returned

To the next day

To try

Better this time


C L Couch



Photo by Lenstravelier on Unsplash


Faithful Skeptic

(x = space)



Faithful Skeptic

(spiritual humanist)


I sin

And then I go to church

How does that work?

We sing that it is well,

Which Saint Julian proposes

We pray for the world

And for concerns

In the parish

We sing some more

We’ll pray some more

Then there will be teaching

(word and sacrament

for those who have sacraments)

Through it all,

We’re singing now

And thank goodness there is

Justice in that

Mingled with grace and mercy


Through sin and virtue

Through indifference and zeal

Through exhaustion and desire

There is something

Going on,

Something moving

Call it spirit

Call it the orbit of the Earth

And the pressing down of gravity

Call it God’s

Call it nature’s

Call it ours


And, yes, through it all

It is well


C L Couch



Saint Julian of Norwich is a saint in the Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.  Other traditional Protestant churches recognize her standing.  Many Christians of all kinds respect her work in parish service and the service of the Christian Church, overall.  Her name is not known:  she is called Julian because that was the name of the church in Norwich, England where she lived.  She had a cell there, not a jail cell but a hermit’s.  She had a cat.  Each day people of the town would come to her to speak with her through a window, asking her for wisdom and advice.  I’m sorry, I should have mentioned that she lived and worked from the latter decades of the fourteenth century into the first years of the fifteenth century.

She wrote Revelations of Divine Love, a widely-read spiritual text.  It is also taken as the oldest book written in English by a woman.  Two things Julian is popularly known for asserting are the metaphor of the world as a hazelnut (long before William Blake asserted perceiving the world as and through a grain of sand).  And she claimed that, no matter how grim or unhopeful or destructive the world might seem, all shall be well.  She says this many times.

And all shall be well.


Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

Tallinn, Estonia


Seeking Sin Eaters

(x = space)



Seeking Sin Eaters

(Genesis 3:8, Revelation 15:16)


We say to the sun

Or moon or stars

Or hills or valleys or any part

Of Earth that might


To cover us,

To hide us from

The wrath of God

Or of people

Or of other consequences


To take our names,

Apply them to another


To stick our names to a board

Inside another

Neighborhood, a sign

That says

We are there

(don’t come looking for us



We hide

We want to hide

From judgment

Real or imagined

In this, imagined

Is real,

Is enough


C L Couch



(also Hosea 10:8, Luke 23:30, and Habakkuk 2:14)


Photo by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Odesa, Ukraine


Kitchen Sink Ritual

Kitchen Sink Ritual


I turn on the hot water

And am thankful

I leave it on

Then wash some dishes

It gets hot

I leave it there

I hadn’t thought about it

Until a friend came up to dry

And told me how hot I

Let the water run

I trust his opinions

Maybe it’s masochistic

Scalding demons

Cleaning out the sins

Ersatz baptism


C L Couch



Photo by Florencia Potter on Unsplash

Buenos Aires, Argentina





I sin

You sin

We all sin

There’s probably a nursery rhyme about it

It can’t not happen, I suppose

Not on this side of things

In heaven, maybe not

But wasn’t there a war there,

And is it done?


The evil that we do

(the sin)

When it becomes a habit,

Then a calling

Well, we’re done, I guess

And yet the wreckage might go on and on

Destruction of the spirit

With victims, all around


There is one sin unforgivable

I try not to be clever

But it seems to me to be denial

Of the Spirit of God at work in the world

And the presence of God, at all

A self-fulfilling condemnation

With no room for grace

No allowance for salvation

The humility and openness

The human soul requires


God cannot laugh this off

It must bring pain to God

Who would rather love

Us than do anything

In all creation

It’s how creation’s biased

In the very making

And the keeping of it


We can’t live happily ever after

If at all


C L Couch



Old 100th

Unknown – attributed to Louis Bourgeois (1510-1561) – 1551 Genevan psalter, typeset by the Mutopia Project, Public Domain,





I don’t know what it means

To eat bitter herbs

Ones I wouldn’t like

Salt and bitter herbs

Is what the rite called for


Bread, salt, and bitter herbs

Then to be run out of town

So that for a time

A year, perhaps

There would be virtue

Lack of hellfire, anyway

The cost of sin

The bearing of it

Having been cast out

Too tragic and too easy


C L Couch



KaMan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Salt Rising Bread


The Way

The Way


Saints and sinners

We need them both

Maybe it’s just me

I can’t be saintly as a rule

And sinning is too easy


Yet the yoke must be easy

The rule must be a way

Not only to do better but

To be reminded there are

Better ways


And sinning? I don’t know,

It could be easier, too, in

Its own way

Less costly

Maybe the Catholics are on to

Something with venial and mortal


I am mortal

So are you

Saintly and sinly are what we have

We are


Saintly too severe

Sinning too lazy, until it becomes

Too close to all there is


Asking why

Might not help so much

We have these ways

The issues, consequence, and


Though I doubt we’ll say, Today

I’ll sin this way

Then devout an hour later

I imagine this works out, anyway


And since it does

Well, maybe there’s reality

We can’t define one against the other

I doubt we can place the essences

In Erlenmeyers, drink from one flask

Or the other from time to time


We have to live now

And sometimes we’ll be good

Sometimes not so much

We have both, we are

Measures of prayer and pardon, too

The way it is

It’s Monday

Must move on with what we have

Turning the needle toward the better way

Understanding when the dial slips

And we must live in contrition

For a while


It’s what we have, it’s what we are

It’s how we live in four dimensions

Adding time and maybe soul

For fifth-dimension living

It has to be well enough

To get us into Tuesday


All of it

There is no other way

And is this way so bad?

Yes, sometimes it is


Then we are needed:

To employ discretion through

All the parts

The substances

The issues

All the matters


Our way through

The best we can,

The best we will


C L Couch



Skitterphoto / 2097 images



Bread and Stone

Bread and Stone


All that’s left

Is the heel of the

Rye bread loaf

And a small pile of

Caraway seeds

(Inside) made

When I lift

The bag


Bread and bitter herbs

I could be

A Celtic sin-eater


A job from long ago

In smaller, well-defined


For their sake


The task has left us,

While the cause

For eating and then

Running out the

One fed




Of sin—perhaps

Given the time

And hard hearts—



Should tear off

A bit of bread

To take with

Zealous spice

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