For each of our pregnancies, I wrote sonnets dedicated to our new child. I don't have too much to offer in the way of quilting or woodworking, so creating some sort of functional heirloom isn't an option for me. Instead, I thought I would craft some of the ideas I thought most important for my kids to understand when they grew up, and I decided to do this in sonnet format. While the structure is modeled around childish notions (ABC's, 123's, Colors, etc), the content is about morality, theology, and the like. They are definitely ideas the kids will have to grow into. I hope that one day my children can read my sonnets and reflections and take them into their own hearts as they wrestle with their humanity, with God, and with how they are going to move out in the world. Until they grow into that, I hope these works will be of use to at least one other strange person out there who would take the time to read about epistemology or metaphysics in an archaic, poetic format.
work week, a leisurely vacation, or anything else, we think about how long an event will last. Sometimes we dwell on the anticipation of something tedious or painful ending, and at other times, it's anxiety at the thought of something great coming to a close. So just like on the day we became newlyweds – and even more so seven years into our vows – I can't help but think about our love as something fantastic that is drawing to a close - at some undetermined time in the future, at least from my perspective.
For those that know me, however, you understand that under my facade of seriousness I am all jokes. To my credit, I can let some very serious things roll off my back and move on with life. But to my debt, the inability to ever take anything with complete seriousness can end up hurting others. In this instance, I think it's to my credit. While I wanted to explore some very serious ideas in this poem, I also wanted to lighten it up a little and have fun with it. I wanted to show that death doesn't kill life while it is being lived. So even when addressing the ending of our lives, such thoughts don't negate the fullness of those lives and our love.
*I am including this in my pacifism links because the Sermon on the Mount has been so transformative for me, particularly as I've begun to hear Christ's words anew and take them more seriously. Sonnets are one medium which allows me to wrestle with issues and feelings in a way I find very helpful. While only a handful of these sonnets relate specifically to pacifism, I think the overall message of the Kingdom is one which needs to be understood and incorporated for pacifism to make much sense.*
JJ’s Gems focuses on gemstones. While gems aren’t a basic learning staple for children like the previous colors, numbers, directions, and letters, I had to go with them since the name “Jemma” brings it to mind. This set of poems attempts to cover the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5-7. Each gem covers one or two sections of the sermon, sometimes very closely, and sometimes more broadly. The poems are ordered in a manner which follows Matthew 5-7. References to what I envision each poem to represent are placed in the footnotes. I wanted to focus on the Sermon on the Mount because it has been extremely influential to me over the past three years, as I have begun to take Jesus’s words more seriously.
Jesus’s words in Matthew 5-7 are very hard, as he guides believers to understand what Kingdom living looks like. I hope that through these poems I can internalize Christ’s words more, and I can expound on what Jesus is saying in his sermon – not in a sense of adding to his sermon, but consolidating other ideas from scripture with it. While there are a number of individual poems and sets of poems I like a lot better than these in terms of how they sound, I have to say that JJ’s Gems is by far the deepest, and is jam packed with double and triple entendres, allusions, etc. For this reason, I highly recommend reading the footnotes for these poems.
As far as deeper significance goes, I have also structured this set of poems to number 12. I did this because there are two important sets of gems in the Bible, one set contained on the priest’s breastplate, and one constituting the foundations of the New Jerusalem – the redeemed holy city on earth. Both sets contain a different set of gems, with some overlapping, and both sets contain 12 precious gems. While I did not go with either set of gems, as they differ and there is overlap now that we have more thorough classifications, nevertheless, the number refers to these biblical ideas.
You can find Jemma's poems below, as well as the whole compilation for all my children. You can also get this on Kindle if you'd like. I make it free as often as I can.