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"Faith Vortex" illustration by Sophia Maggio - SpokaneFāVS

Faith in the Vortex

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By Sophia Maggio

Recently, one of my friends and I enjoyed a winding discussion about the concept of “vortexes”: specifically, what our personal vortexes might look like.

By vortex, I think we just meant our make-believe worlds or multiverses that we hope to inhabit some distant day in the future when we are no longer “lady babies,” as we jokingly call ourselves. On this day, I imagine that we’ll each enter into our respective vortexes, no longer reliant on microwaves or the affirmation of peers; suddenly, we’ll become “real” adults, strutting around the world with an air of certainty and competence.

On this day, we will stop pitter-pattering around the questions of whether we’re “good enough,” “smart enough,” “strong enough.” We’ll suddenly feel settled in our bodies and our souls, able to recognize and articulate our emotions as soon as they bubble to the surface, and will bid “sayonara” to self-deprecating humor, ridiculously hesitant emails, and self-sabotage in the romantic sphere. On this day, I’ll stop embarrassing myself by accidentally waving to people I don’t know, or pretending to not know people I do know because I’m worried that I actually don’t know them, and will therefore wave at them. On this day, I will perfect the body roll and use it at a post-pandemic dance club gathering.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ll gain my “adult phone voice,” the one I’ve been waiting on since the days of fake (plastic) phone calls with fake debt collectors. Beautifully rounded words will gracefully fall out of my mouth into the ear of the other caller, who will be so impressed with my articulate, smooth voice that they’ll offer me an unrelated yet alluring job on the spot.

On this day, I’ll be so spiritually, emotionally, and financially secure that I won’t need this job, and so I’ll relay the caller to another young woman, a budding lady-baby, who will accept the job offer and enter the long-awaited vortex of self-assuredness, glitter, body rolls, perfect pancakes, and spiritual enlightenment.

This day will never come. Still, when I’m lying on my bedroom floor, taking a moment of respite from the assorted struggles of life, I sometimes try to enter into my vortex. I imagine that I might ascend into the vortex by climbing a bare tree that extends from my forehead, where most of my imagination – and stress – is concentrated. I envision bubbles of pain, annoyance, frustration, self-doubt, and sadness rising from my forehead and leaving my body as I scan to the tip of the tree, where I visualize a “better” or even “best” version of myself. Still, I have an intuitive sense — tied to my heart — that in this particular stage in my life, my purpose is to simply nurture and support this spindly, rapidly-growing tree — not recklessly climb it like a crazy person. I’m lying on the ground right now, and I may always be on the ground, supporting this tree. I also have an intuition that I’ll never gain my adult phone voice, nor will I reach spiritual enlightenment or feel entirely self-assured. Yet lying on the ground grants me the ability to spend time refining my values, honoring my roots, and cultivating my sense of belonging and connectedness to others in an unruly, virus-y, awkwardly unpredictable world.

“Faith Vortex” illustration by Sophia Maggio – SpokaneFāVS

It seems as though we’re all working from the heart right now, with little control over anything else. Personally, it feels like my contacts have fallen out of my eyeballs; I haven’t worn “hard pants” in weeks, and we are all clearly integrated into a system far more powerful than our physical bodies. What I can do is choose to remain rooted to this tree, which challenges me to aspire to the vortex version of myself. In this moment, I also choose to remain connected to my fellow humans: who, in a time of crisis, have been revealed to be just as awkward, stumbly, and skeptical as I am — just more brazenly so.

To me, this realization is as humanizing as it is endearing: the realization that we’re all sprawled on the ground like potato bugs, working from our hearts, endeavoring to climb into these bright, glittery, otherworldly vortexes that may or may not even exist. Like any religion, however, perhaps the existence of the “thing” isn’t quite what matters. Rather, it’s the act of declaring faith in that thing, the thing that keeps you going. Hopefully, this supports a mission to simply connect to yourself and to other humans, and to one day rise from the ground, doubtless and maybe still clueless, yet carrying on bravely with a questionable interpretation of the body roll.

About Sophia Maggio

Sophia Maggio is a senior at Gonzaga University studying Art and Psychology Research. She is interested in the intersection of visual arts and psychology, and plans to continue studying social psychology and/or art in graduate school. She is excited for this opportunity to engage more intentionally with the various faith communities of Spokane, and hopes to gain a better understanding of her own faith and beliefs – although she says this is an ongoing journey. Sophia loves hiking with friends in and around Spokane, thrifting for quirky clothing items, and drawing and painting while listening to podcasts: most likely the Moth, Criminal, This American Life, or Stuff You Should Know.

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