breaking free of the community

breaking free of the community March 17, 2012
Sophia cuts the bridge that joined her to the controlling community.
Sophia “Bridge” (pen and ink and graphite pencil on paper, David Hayward)

Sophia decided she had to make the definitive cut that tied her to the constrictive and controlling community. With one decisive swing of the axe, she separated herself and set herself apart. Of course, it would be interpreted as violent, rash, unnecessary and permanent, but this was the only way she could find her own mind, her own voice and even her own life… her right to be independent. It was a prophetic act against the community. But it was a prophetic act for herself.

Within what one calls religions- Judaism, Christianity, Islam, or other religions- there are again tensions, heterogeneity, disruptive volcanoes, sometimes texts, especially those of the prophets, which cannot be reduced to an institution, to a corpus, to a system. I want to keep the right to read these texts in a way which has to be constantly reinvented. It is something which can be totally new at every moment (Derrida)”

When the prophets who emerge out of any tradition are alive and speaking, they are completely considered outside the established community. Even enemies! They stand beyond the tradition, rebellious and defying all labels, untamable and dangerous. They cannot be claimed by any certain religion. Their concern is pure faith and truth of which no one institution can assert ownership. In time their stories and words are co-opted back into the very tradition they exposed and challenged and lose their potency.

Sophia has recognized this cyclical habit of the community and has decided to break free to discover this wild and uncontrollable spirit. She intends to explore then employ this spirit in her new life that she has created for herself. She’s a prophet and doesn’t even know it.

Check out my Sophia originals and prints, including this one, “Bridge”, in my online gallery!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Sophia is appropriately wise.

    I like to point out to Christians who don’t follow the mainstream that Jesus was called a heretic too, so they musty be in good company.

    Love the Derrida quote, especially “I want to keep the right to read these texts in a way which has to be constantly reinvented. It is something which can be totally new at every moment”

  • Jenny Howard

    I’m in the midst of making a hard choice, one that you know well. This image was at the top of my FB feed this morning. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

  • Wow! that brought back so many memories. I can still see the eyes on the other side as I swung the axe. Fear and freedom…I’m finally free to express, and live my faith. And slowly I’m find others on this side.

  • Sarah

    Ron, I am very happy for you.


    Sarah x

  • Brilliant. Cutting links always feels bad, and it feels bad for the community. But it can be the only way.

  • Gary

    David this has long been my favorite of Sophia’s image’s. Really connect with it on a personal level.

    We recently had another reminder of why we cut our bridge. Our public high school has a sports team going on a mission trip this summer. Yes small county district and still have some freedom to do such. But my old church being the largest in the school district is the only one who has not allowed the kids to come and share and raise support. Our best friends son is going on the trip and were former members so when she sent an email asking why they refused to allow the boys to come the pastor replied with a long defense of his spiritual commitment and all the missions they support. And then flatly denied that he knew anything about it. (The FCA and the coach both approached them directly) Yes this “man of God”, after trumpeting all of his spirituality, simply told a direct and undeniable lie.

    The real reason for their refusal is obvious to us however. We remember the nearly constant beat downs he would lay on the congregation for choosing sports over attendance. He had little tolerance for choosing to attend a ball game over a mid week service. Of course after hearing his rant on the subject one too many times I simply stopped attending mid week services all together. I honestly don’t know why I tolerated his abuse for so long.

    Sophia and I seem kindred spirits at times.

  • Pat Pope

    The first paragraph describes my experience. I have found my voice since leaving the church I was in last year (it’ll be a year come Easter). One of the things that I’ve learned is to not silence your own voice. To do so is to kill off a part of yourself and you’ll live to regret it.

  • marcie

    I have to wonder when she turns her back to them calling it the past once and for all what would you draw? What would sweet Sophia see?

  • Gloria

    I used to feel this way…but have come to realize “saying” what you believe is easy compared to “living out” what you say you believe…”living out” takes place in community…”living out” is what makes the difference…

  • marcie

    Steve never thought of that…. Wow it is sad because their hope just cut their bridge too? Maybe someday she will come back and build a new way. Lets hope…..

  • amazonfeet

    I had to do this, but found a spiritual community that loves and cares for me just the way I am. The theme of this Sophia Picture reminds me of a passage in the Dharmapada that says,”If you cannot find a suitable companion to walk with on the spiritual path, then walk alone”…if it’s clear that the people you are with, are not going to walk a path of love, justice and humility, then walk alone. A toxic spiritual environment is worse than being alone. There are a lot of things in life that are worse than being alone…David, I love your Sophia pictures…[on a personal note: you haven’t seen me in awhile because I lost my internet source for several weeks. I was dependent on a neighbor’s router and he abruptly decided to discontinue service. I now have cable internet, which works even better.]

  • welcome back amazonfeet!

  • Helen

    Today’s picture, message and comments are encouraging to me. I relate ‘amazonfeet’ to the toxic spiritual environment. Unfortunately if I’m the Sophia in the picture, then the group on the other side is my family and other Christian legalists. But I accept the aloneness in preference to a community that kept me bound. And I purposefully stride to find ‘ron cole’s others on this side’.

  • Laurene le Grange

    Hi Dave, have just finished looking at your Sophia Series. I can relate to Sophia’s journey on so many levels. I was a Christian for years and then followed the Divine Feminine path. I am slowly coming to see and experience Jesus differently through amazing friends and teachers like Francois Du Toit and Andre Rabe, yet I can not deny that at my core there is still this primal wild woman who relates to Sophia and looking at your art work and how you capture that freedom and wildness in Sophia stirs up my Spirit on a very deep level and makes me long to find a way of reconciling these two parts of me into a cohesive whole.

  • i appreciate your kind and thoughtful words laurene. she means a lot to me as well.