Breath, beasts and straw

Another breath –
but this one is God’s
– his first
as a brother and saviour,

He comes to us on our own terms
but many say he can’t.
This birth is a fact of history
and also much more:
the refutation of human glory,
self seeking and personal triumph
whilst at the same time each and
every soul’s hope and the
promise of the unimaginable.

Without Him our lives
are but as straw;
without love we
are nothing but
brute beasts.
In our midst God is born.

Both then and now
and till the end of time,
our cold and poverty,
the beast and the straw
are filled and inhabited
by a glory we cannot see
– yet.

© Neil Thompson 2018

Dare to stop

Look? Listen? No –

Advent is the time of waiting.
We rarely choose it
for waiting teaches us
we are subject to time.

We invent the clock,
the measure
but the power is beyond us.

Time embodies mystery
and brings change
with glimpses of memory and expectation.
Stop and we might experience the beyond.

Advent is the threshold of God’s coming in time.
Am I too busy and important to stop?
It is control and complacency that
corrode our souls and darken the glimpse of glory.

The journey of wonder lies in the waiting;
we reach Bethlehem by stopping.
Even a heartbeat can drown out
the song of the angels.

Think too much
and the world floods back in.
The everything of God
is born in the poverty
of Bethlehem and me.

Empty is

the altar;
the manger;
the cross

– until He comes.

© Neil Thompson 2018

Beyond Bethlehem


Barely a breath has filled your lungs

You know nothing
and without another you cannot live

Absent from our human past
and promised death in the future

Is this hope? Is this wisdom?

Yes, for love is so simple
and truth so fragile

This is Jesus in time
Love unending in our midst

Beyond – the gift from afar

Beyond all knowledge and self
Here in this birth

© Neil Thompson 2017

Dust and Ashes


That is what we are.
And spirit.

It is the ash that smothers and stifles
sight and sense
when we ignore the spirit.

Lent’s forty days
to see a different way
and feel a different gravity
when love and truth and pity
lighten our heavy dust–choked selves.

It is the road to Calvary
and the empty tomb.
There is no other.

Without spirit
there is only dust.

With God, Resurgam.

© Neil Thompson 2017

Verses accompanying the Seven Last Words from the Cross

Metre: 887

The seven last words from the Cross

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23.34)

Love in death breathes life for ever,
God forgives so hate can never
Triumph over Jesus’ cross.

Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23.43)

Reaching out to lost and crying,
Takes our souls in hour of dying
To the Father’s heavenly home.

Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother! (John 19.26)

Caring for his blessed Mother
Chooses John to be his brother:
Makes their home for coming days.

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27.46)

Darkness breaks the soul in bleakness;
Jesus carries all in weakness
Now abandoned – all alone.

I thirst. (John 19.28)

Agony is life o’erturning,
Broken body’s thirst is burning:
Death draws near with every breath.

It is finished. (John 19.30)

Life and death no more competing,
Love fulfils as God completing:
Giving all, so all is won.

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23.46)

Darkness joins in sorrow’s grieving
Father’s love his Son receiving
O’er the brink of death and time.

© Neil Thompson 2015

The kiss of God


Stop. Be still.

What is it to be kissed?
Yes, think
...and then stop thinking.

The Christmas birth is the kiss of God.
God takes our humanity – and our lips
– he kisses and is kissed.
Is this real?
Is God in love with you and me?
Is he so close as to touch and kiss?

So many questions but a kiss is a kiss.
It is love and flesh combined.
It lasts yet is gone:
touched, blessed, ravished and set free.

God’s heartbeat is born:
a baby to be loved
and hidden until strong enough
to be kissed in the Garden
and abandoned to the Cross.

What is it to be kissed?
It is surrender – in the moment
and for eternity.

Did shepherds and kings kiss you
O little one of Bethlehem?
Can I?

If I can’t, can we ever be one?

You kiss me till my dying breath,
O love eternal –
use my lips to bring that truth
to life today.

© Neil Thompson 2015

Wind and Fire ~ A Sonnet for Pentecost

The power of nature flows through every day
– it lights and holds each moment’s thought and move
Yet humankind has walked illusion’s way
By making self the point of all to prove.
The winds bring change and life o’er all the earth
And fire ignites a danger rarely tamed;
For we are not the masters making worth
Creation’s life – by us forever framed.
The fiftieth day of Easter changes all
As fire and wind bring power of love by grace:
The spirit burns and blows to seek our hearts
And minds – so meaning’s purpose finds the place
In human wills inspired by nature’s arts.
We live beyond ourselves for evermore
In Spirit’s breath fulfilling every law.

© Neil Thompson 2015

Candlemas ~ A Sonnet

Two turtledoves are offered to the Lord
As firstborn son is given back by Law;
The ancient covenant brings lives outpoured
In simple gifts, the offering of the poor.
Through Temple courts the infant Jesus’ light
Is recognised by Simeon’s vigil eyes
Waiting for God to flood dark Israel’s night
With glory – and with light, the Gentiles’ prize.
Many will rise and fall in God’s new age
As Jesus, God’s anointed holy one,
Brings judgement as foretold in scripture’s page,
Salvation’s grace bestowed in Christ, the Son.
So take the flame of Jesus’ holy birth
And walk by faith God’s gift for days on earth!

© Neil Thompson 2015

A Christmas Sonnet of the Dispossessed

We know the place where Jesus Christ was born
As God took breath and laid his head on earth;
Yet power and people mixed their love with scorn –
And soon the babe takes flight from Bethlem’s birth
Escaping sword and jealous murderous fears
To find a refuge in a distant land.
We learn that joys of love are bathed in tears
As Christ our brother holds us by the hand:
The newly born becomes a man despised,
For living out the truth that conquers loss;
He wanders homeless, humbly – God–disguised –
And brought to shame and death on Calvary’s cross.
So, all displaced by war and want are one
With God – who shares all pain in Christ his Son.

© Neil Thompson 2015

A Contradiction of Sense

God’s Son is born as cattle low
and heaven’s silent trumpets blow:
the Christ arrives in darkest night
lit by love’s invisible light.

We know this story
but is it really true?
It strains our credibility –
thin on facts and
rich in poetry.

The Bethlehem scene tests us:
everything here
asks us questions
and searches us out
for the rest of time.

The smelly stable
Is now a part of heaven.
The munching beasts
and creaking beams
resound the music of the angels.
The flickering lamp
and pale moonbeams
are flooded by
celestial invisible glory.

Here, all human weakness is met;
all pain and loss is transformed:
by this collision
and these contradictions.

This baby takes us to the cross
and the grave
…but does not leave us there.

Christmas overcomes our power
and invites another.
Truth is never simpler
nor nearer:
the silent trumpets sound and
the darkest light streams in!

God’s Son is born as cattle low
and heaven’s silent trumpets blow:
the Christ arrives in darkest night
lit by love’s invisible light.

© Neil Thompson 2014

Summer somersaults of joy

Summer somersaults of joy!

Earth and sky, sky and earth – 
head over heels in joy:
with the high sun we can tumble over and over
seeing one, both, the other
in brightness and in sudden shower,
in dazzling light and heady scent,
in steamy throbbing night. 
Colour bursts before and in our eyes – 
the very earth teems and oozes life and nectar – 
intoxicating our senses and souls
into reels of ecstasy.
O happy apogee of sun,
you whose beguiling rays of light
undresses us and reveals
the desires of all
to be free,
to be me,
to be thee!

© Neil Thompson 2013

Clavis Christi

He came
and unlocked
every heart
and cell
and vault.

He left the key
for me and you
—and all.
In trust, in love
we’re free or fettered.
Can I choose?

Where then is the key
when all is locked
and blocked?
It lies close by
so small and hid
my pride can scarcely bend
to touch and reach it.

Amidst the cries of cruelties,
the screams of crucified life
there is the silence of my prison
and the comfort of my selfish cell.

My health, my wealth, my stealth
are the very bars of self.
Unlocked by Christmas Christ
and Friday’s Calvary friend
yet freedom’s risk
may still not be my choice.
I am the key, the lock, the grave:
sweet grace and life are Christ’s alone.

© Neil Thompson 2013

Two Sonnets of Faith


From dust through dust life’s miracle will pass:
Between each breath eternity can flow;
My life as frail and short as blade of grass
Is promised more than any mind can know.
Can bread be love as well as mortal food?
Can matter carry spirit with each breath?
Each hint, each gulf and void, when self subdued,
Makes answer over every sense of death.
There is a hope and truth in life alone
That makes us one and free in every hour:
Love lives and gives to rescue and atone –
In smile and word and sacrificial power.
This dust is bound for glory – in our doubt
Let feeble voice give rise to mighty shout!

16 June 2012


There always is a path beneath our feet:
We are not strangers cast adrift at birth.
Our hearts can echo love’s eternal beat,
Each foot can feel below the mortal earth.
There is a pattern formed by risk and death
On lonely hill at noontide’s darkest hour
That rescues us with cry and parting breath –
The edge’s wire is now the eternal bower –
The lost is found; the centre claims each heart.
All we who are set loose with choice when born
Find life a road that takes us from the start
With questions where the heart and will are torn.
Yet home is always here by love’s true grace:
The journey is our heavenly dwelling place.

25 June 2012

© Neil Thompson 2012

The Lens

What can I see of Christmas?
Two thousand years or a party?
I’m not sure what I see at all.
There is a magic and a moment
but then it is gone.

Is there really a gift that lasts for you and me?
There is – but mostly we don’t want it
let alone dare to open it.

The baby with new born eyes
adds a lens to our selfish sight.
Love shares our life to set us free –
free to see the difference and the other:
to enjoy it and to die for it.
We have to die for something
and dust is all we are.

The lens of life transforms the clay of everyday
into the vision of unending joy.
It’s Christmas: yes, now I can see!


© Neil Thompson 2012

Two Church Sonnets


Where nature walks with humankind as one,
God’s tree of right and wrong is honoured there;
The town, the home and all our work is done –
Set free by love and faith and Spirit’s flair.
To find this garden takes us all our days
If we resist the gift and hope of Christ.
From leafless tree, nailed limbs and godless maze
His death redeems our riches overpriced.
Now is the time when human life can flower,
When will submits to love as germ and seed,
So toil and care will flourish in God’s bower
And moment’s prison from ourselves is freed.
The healing stream of Paradise can flow
When human cities like God’s garden grow.


Tumble down all sounds and notes of heaven
And rain your truth o’er all the faithless earth!
May music be the means, the end, the leaven
Of mortal clay whose life, whose death, whose birth
Is shared by God in Jesus Christ the Son –
His humble music reaches out to all
To bring us home when all our days are done
And saves us from the selfish curse, the Fall.
Sing, sing aloud with joy all dust and clay
For staves hold notes that shall for ever ring
And earthen pots sound the eternal day.
Night’s dark is ended when with Christ we sing:
The Spirit is the song which brings us home
To Father’s house, celestial music’s dome!

© Neil Thompson 2011