advent journal: saints of diminished capacity


I have been going back through some poems I wrote several years ago. My intention was not to repeat them, necessarily, but a couple of them have taken hold in new ways and feel as though they are worth bringing to light once more. I needed these words tonight. I hope they find you, too.

saints of diminished capacity

I only saw the words written,
requiring me to infer tone;
to assume either compassion
or conceit; to decide if the poet
mimed quotation marks when
he said, “diminished capacity,” —
or saints, for that matter —
if he even said the words out loud.

Either way, the phrase is
fragrant with failure, infused
with what might have been,
what came and went,
what once was lost . . .
and now is found faltering,
struggling, stumbling,
still hoping, as saints do,
failure is not the final word.

Forgiveness flows best from
brokenness; the capacity for
love is not diminished by
backs bowed by pain, or
hearts heavy with grief.
Write this down: the substance
of things hoped for fuels
those who walk wounded:
we are not lost; we are loved.



  1. I think that ‘with diminished capacity’ is the only kind of saint there is. If they were perfect, they wouldn’t be saints, they’d be God. My parents are the saintliest people I know. Both are now 89. Dad needs a walker to get around, and his hearing aid is not up to the task, yet he still exemplifies what it means to follow Jesus for me and for many others who know him. My mam has osteoporosis and her back is badly bent, so that reaching up to get something off of a high shelf is difficult, yet she still serves as church librarian, supervising a vibrant reading program for all ages at their church and singing alto in the choir. Their capacity is diminished, but their influence as saints is as it should be. That’s what i’ve always wanted to be when I grow up: just like them.

Leave a Reply