Why I Wrote and Drew Sophia

Sophia Collection by nakedpastor David Hayward
Sophia Collection by nakedpastor David Hayward


This is the introduction from my book, The Liberation of Sophia, a collection of 59 drawings, each with a meditation.


I left the professional ministry and the church abruptly in the spring of 2010.

I’d finally had enough. I wanted to be free. I needed to be free. What I discovered, though, was that I was free all along. I simply needed to live it.

At the time my wife Lisa was working Friday and Saturday nights. So I had both of those nights to do my artwork in solitude. I have been an artist most of my life, usually focusing on producing moody watercolor landscapes. But suddenly I found myself using pencils and pens. I was drawing these detailed images of a young girl or woman in various situations. She was usually nude and almost always seen from behind, engaging with nature, animals, birds, water, fish, the elements, but always essentially with herself.

One evening, as I was drawing “Cave”, I noticed an incredible amount of emotion within me as I drew her. It was then I realized I was drawing my own journey, chronicling my own spiritual passage. I knew her name was Sophia and that she represented the pilgrimage from being trapped to being free. At the same time I noticed how many people, especially women, were intrigued, inspired and encouraged by her as I posted each image on my blog, nakedpastor.

It wasn’t even really intentional. It was like a flow of consciousness. I only drew whatever I was inspired to draw whenever I was inspired to draw it. The images kept flowing for over two years until I had collected over fifty-five of them. When I finished the last drawing, I knew I was done. It was finished. Sophia, I, had finally found the freedom longed for.

So when you read the story of Sophia and see the drawings, you are seeing not only the journey of a young woman courageously struggling to achieve her own spiritual independence and gain her own freedom. You are also reading my story. This is about me. But it is also about so many of you who feel or felt trapped and want to do whatever it takes to be free.

Don’t make the mistake, like I did, of assuming that liberation from captivity is easy. It’s not. It is full of danger. But if you journey it well, you will come into a freedom like you’ve never known before. You have to adjust to it. I hope this book helps. I think this is why the moon plays a significant role in this story: it is the dark night of the soul. There is very little light, and what light there is reflected. But I can say that if you persevere, you will come into a light as bright as the sun… your own light.

I intentionally never show Sophia fully. We never see her face. That’s because she is all of us.

Take the journey with me.


8 Replies to “Why I Wrote and Drew Sophia”

  1. I have thought about it.

    First of all, if you read the intro, it started spontaneously and unconsciously. It wasn’t intentional. I was drawing her for a while before I realized I was drawing my story. And I called her Sophia before I realized it was the story of my own journey to my own freedom and organic wisdom. So I remained faithful to it. Also, as we can see from the later ones, “Resilience” and “Shy”… she’s putting on some weight. She’s slender in the beginning to represent, I guess, her attrition.

  2. “First of all”, I used the expression “your mind” to show that I was aware it was probably spontaneous and unconscious.

    Maybe it was just the artist in you too. You rarely see male artists drawing nude men, no?

  3. I think the human mind will often provide an avatar to be ‘me’ in a new and freer form.

    In that sense, the prisoner becomes a spider, or a snake, and follows the journeys of their avatar… in their imagination, they face giants, and survive, and then thrive.

    Authors often use an avatar in their fiction stories – it is not Jack that climbs the beanstalk, it is the author… and many times, it is the reader that years later ‘lives’ the story as they read it.

    Allowing the creative side of the mind to simply flow with the avatar, can help a person solve intense struggles from new perspectives.

    So, I am glad that Sophia appeared for you, David. And very glad that you flowed with your avatar.

  4. David: I think I have written this before, but in case I haven’t. My favorite form of Buddhism (radically different then most – and certainly in the sweet, safe Western version) is the Vajra Tradition of Tibet. In Vajra Buddhism there is the Khandro-Pawo model which sees Men containing an inner woman and Women and inner man as potential teacher. It then values partners as a manifestation of that, and so to nurture relationships as thus.

    Anyway I think it is richer than Jungs, but I know it is non-Western. Nonetheless, it may be your Sophia in ways. See this link for a bit of an introduction on Khandro-Pawo.

    Khandro, btw, is the Tibetan word for the Sanskrit (yoga and Indian Buddhism) for Dakini — if you have that in your cultural anchors.

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