new Sophia drawing “pioneer”

Sophia drawing "pioneer".

Sophia “Pioneer”: (Buy the original drawing. Or buy a print.)

This image “Pioneer” partners with my One Minute Message on Youtube from the other day, “In Praise of Pioneers” (click here to watch it).

Our brave Sophia is a pioneer. She is separating herself from the mainstream, symbolized here by the forest, the community of trees. She simply must navigate her own spiritual path, blaze her own trail and find her own spiritual home or she will never find her happiness.

It’s been over two years since I left the professional ministry. I’ve been through many traumatic experiences with the church that, for some reason or another, have left me outside of it. Each time, I said, “never again”.

For the past while I’ve felt like a bad son because of it… a sad and bitter son… a disappointment. I’ve felt like my “never again”s have been a weakness.

But yesterday while going for a walk I was given a revelation… a different perspective on my story. I realized that after each traumatic separation from the church, I have taken a couple of years to recover, but then I get back in the game. But my return to the game has always been further away from center.

Perhaps these deaths have actually been births into what I’m finally supposed to be doing. Perhaps my place is furthest outside the city gate. Perhaps because of fear or insecurity or a desire to please, I would never go far outside the city gate voluntarily, so I had to be coaxed by these small deaths and births to arrive where I belong and need to work.

So, even though I know I’ve been a pastor on this blog, I intend to be more intentional about it. I am a pastor. That’s what I’m trained to do, educated to do, and experienced to do, and feel called to do. It’s what I’m passionate about. Of course, I will mainly speak through my art and cartoons. These are my parables. But I will also work through my writing and speaking… one on one and publicly. Also, of course, I am definitely free-lance.

I intend to start something locally. I’m not sure what yet. At least I will start hosting talks… safe places where fellow-pilgrims can meet and talk.

Like Sophia here, I’m going to be a pioneer. I’ll do it alone if I must. But I’d love some company.

Who’s with me? Online or local.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Pat Pope

    I’m with ya’, except I’m in Ohio.

  • http://redemptionjunkie.blogspot.com HeidiRenee

    both image and words move me, thank you for pastoring here and for walking the path you have taken. i have loved watching sophia on her own too.

  • Bev

    Count me in, please, David. It’s been a long time … and maybe it is time.

  • ttm

    All of the Sophia drawings resonate with me … The one that sits atop my bedroom bookcase at just the right angle to be seen first thing in the morning still fills me with the same joy and exhortation to keep being me–the real me–as the very first time I saw it. I love this one because it reminds me so much of the tree lines and wide open spaces of rural Minnesota where I grew up. And of walking alone, pondering the paradoxes of life, under a friendly full moon on a chilly, but not too cold, night.

    I’ve had a couple of traumatic, triggering experiences this week which have had me thinking again about just how much I struggle against institutions, so-called authority figures, and what I perceive to be (or are) obnoxious agents trying to exert “control” over my freedom of expression and thought and behaviors.

    I just said to someone this week related to some medical stuff going on– “I would have been a great pioneer. No doctors for miles around. No insurance companies. And I would just have to deal with my own gangrene, thank you very much.” When there are so many hands on the information, so many heads knocking together about the “best” way to prevent or treat, so many opinions about the best course of action, so many people trying to get at my money, so many papers to complete and questions to answer and tests to submit to and SO LITTLE real dialogue and SO FEW attempts to see what MY OPINION is regarding MY BODY. … well, a little gangrene with some peace and quiet doesn’t sound so bad. For all of those reasons and the fact that the word “pioneer” has been in my vocabulary lately, I love this piece of art. ;-)

    And I love that it leaves me wondering how she got to the spot in which she stands–uphill, downhill, or sideways. :-)

  • http://thewoundedbird.blogspot.com Grandmère Mimi

    Wonderful Sophia drawing.

    Jesus’ followers were so often marginal people. The earliest Christians were on the margins, persecuted, killed. Christianity began to go awry when it became Christendom. It seems to me that one purpose of the church is to speak truth to those in power, and if it is faithful to that purpose, it will always be on the margins, and it will always come down on the side of the poor, the sick, the lame, and the blind, the widow, the orphan, and the alien. There are no outcasts in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the world as we see it turned upside down.

    Thus endeth the sermon. Go for it, David.

  • http://www.lovefiercely.blogspot.com Cathryn Thomas

    yo dude.. see you along the journey fo’sho
    Grace and Peace dear.
    xcat

  • http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com Debra

    I’m with you David.
    That’s me in the cartoon.
    Sophia is my Self.

    We left the herd to follow the Shepherd.
    In praise of pioneers, love this. Thank you for the affirmation.

  • http://yourstruly-stacie.blogspot.com/ Stacie

    I’m here. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and really enjoy it. I love your art. (I too am an artist). And I love your “outside the box” thinking, as I also live outside the box. :-) You are not alone, and you are an inspiration. Keep up the good work.

  • Robin

    Awesome picture. Thanks expressing yourself thru your art.

  • pat maloney

    i feel like that. found you through chef paul. i paint, draw, write, sing, play…. more…. i would like to minister more with those god-given talents…. now is a busy time of day but i’ll be back in touch. bless u and your work. xxx
    love this image and the manifesto

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks Pat. say more!

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    you’re welcome debra. thanks!

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks everyone so so much.

  • Loretta Halliday

    I just found you, quite by accident (or was it?) today. And I am blessed to have made the discovery.
    I was instrumental, years ago, in bringing my siblings to an understanding of faith outside of the Catholicism in which we were raised. I led them into a non-demoninational pentecostal realm, where I had been happy for a time. But after they were firmly rooted in their new beliefs, I became quite unhappy with the narrow-mindedness and the push for all believers to look, sound and think alike. In effect, they wanted us to be clones, right down to our political affiliation. My siblings remain there to this day, and they simply cannot understand why I have chosen the path of your Sophia “Pioneer.” But I am infinitely more fulfilled in my solitary search than I ever was inside those church buildings and doctrine.
    So, thank you for being courageous enough to leave the comfort of standard ministry behind, and for reaching out to those of us who have been struggling with the same choices.

    Being inside the box is not where I want to be, although people keep trying to put God there.
    I’m glad God doesn’t fit there either :-)

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Hi Loretta: I was in Pentecostalism for a long time a long time ago. There’s still residue. Thanks for sharing. Nice to meet you.

  • Andrew

    It’s great to hear some deep thinking on these Christian sub-culture issues. I just recently started frequenting this site. Many of the issues raised resonate quite strongly with me. I’m moving to Saint John in a month – I would be interested in knowing of any talks you host, David. I’m always interested in broader views and deconstructions of our religion and religious issues. I am always drawn to the CBC radio show Tapestry, and frequently their Ideas program deals with issues of spirituality and religion. The same resonance I find in the discussions here, I also find in Geez magazine.
    Thank you David for sharing your insights and experiences. Please keep sharing.

  • jack

    Where does one turn to be a “pioneer” at 56, with 35 of those years being dedicated to denominational work? A greeter at Walmart? Am glad I found the nakedpastor. It feels like a safe, but disturbing place to hide. Thanks!


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