Skyline, Summer - 2006

By Diane Pendola

Christ at the Center

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Lately I've been thinking about St. Paul.  Remember this story?  He was hunting down the early Christians, who at that time were called "followers of the Way".  He was buoyed up and justified by the strength of his own religious convictions. He felt that he was doing the right thing. He thought he was serving God and his nation. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest any followers of Jesus that he could find, when he was knocked from his horse. He heard a voice saying,"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? "   'Who are you, Lord?'  he asked, and the voice answered, "I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me."


I confess that I feel ashamed to be associated with many today who name themselves as Christians or who call themselves Catholics. I feel ashamed of the "Church".   Not the mystical church; not the body of Christ that is co-extensive with the entire universe; not the church of so many women and men who have been luminaries in my life and the life of the world. Rather, I am ashamed of the churches, catholic and protestant, who have taken Jesus as captive; the churches who have imprisoned the light of Christ within the parameters of their own narrow thinking. I grieve the Catholic Church which has marginalized me as a woman, persecuted me as a lesbian and disrespected me as a complete human-being.  My personal experience of oppression at the hands of the church sensitizes me to so many who have been violated by its misuses of power. It has lost contact with the Christ at the Center; the Christ who is the divinizing energy at the core of our humanity; the Christ who is transforming us into incarnate Love.  The Christ who says, "May they all be one.  As I have become one with the Unitive Source and the Unitive Source has become transparent through me, may they be one in us."


I am heart sick with what the Church has done with Christ. But I don't want to harangue.  No one needs another litany of complaint.  What I want is to plead the case for Christ:

         the Christ who is hope,

         the Christ who is faith,

         the Christ who is unconditional Love.

         The Christ who reconciles all things into the Divine Self.

I want to plead for the Christ who is singing outside my window:

         the yellow-bodied bird

         with black wings and an

         orange flame face.

         The Christ who plays

         in the new-born calf,

         running and jumping in the summer day.

I want to plead for the Christ who recognizes Her Self

         looking through my eyes,

         manifesting in the myriad world.

I want to plead for the Christ who suffers in my gay friend:

          cast out of Christian community,

         excluded from a pharisaical church

         that wounds and crucifies the prophets among us.

I want to plead for the Christ who is that man.


I want to plead for the Christ of the resurrection:

         the Christ who is more than Jesus. 

         The Christ who is on-going revelation unfolding

         from the heart of creation,

         from the heart of matter,

         from the heart of humanity.

I want to plead the case for Love:

          that is patient and kind,

         that does not judge or boast,

          that is the summation of the entire law and the prophets.


I want to plead the case that God is Love:

          the energy holding the stars,

          the gravitational field

         attracting us to all that is good.

I want to plead the case that Love is God

         And where there is Love

          there is God...

         just that simple.


Jesus was crucified by people entrenched in a structure of righteous religiosity not unlike the fundamentalisms besetting so many of the religions of our day. Just as for Paul on the road to Damascus, transformation will come by direct experiential contact with the Divine. This journey is a deeply personal one.  It leads into the depths of ourselves and the depths of the universe.


Jesus, recognizing his impending death, said to his friends, "In the world, you will have trouble.  But be at Peace.  I have overcome the world."


 I want to plead the case that this "I" from which Jesus speaks is our deepest identity,

         our truest Self,

         our Christ-nature

         reconciling all things in us.

For this reconciliation we need hearts as big as Love itself.  For this we need the heart of Christ.



@Diane Pendola, June 2006.  You are welcome to print or make a copy in electronic form for personal use or sharing with interested persons as long as the copyright notice is not removed or altered.

  Please do not print it in any other publication, or sell it, by itself or as part of another work, without express written permission of the author.  Thank you!  -