Art from Mari Andrew, My Inner Sky, via Rewire
Kate Bowler was 35 years old and had just received tenure and had her first child. Everything seemed to be perfect in her life, and then she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Since then, Kate has created an empire of self-care around the concept of “everything happens—but not for a reason.” Her website showcases her books, speeches, blessings, and of course her incredible podcast, which I’ve really appreciated over the past year, appropriately titled, “Everything Happens
For a Reason with Kate Bowler.”
On April 27, 2021, Kate interviewed Mari Andrew about life in the in-between—that space between pre- and post-crisis. Sometimes life as we know it just stops. A sudden crisis at work or home, and suddenly everything you took for granted, your normal day-to-day routines, are completely upended, and you wonder when—or even whether—everything will settle back to “normal.” The point of many of Kate’s podcast episodes, including this one, is that we never fully go back to normal after a crisis. Whether we like it or not, we are changed by our experiences in this world. We have to learn to live with these experiences, no matter how painful or life-changing, and figure out how to move forward in our new reality.
Mari Andrew, a writer, artist, and speaker, understands this “in-between experience” well. She wrote her book, My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between, while she was recovering from a sudden and debilitating illness. As she writes on her website: “A whole, beautiful life is only made possible by the wide spectrum of feelings that exist between joy and sorrow. I hope this book empowers you to transform your experiences into something meaningful, and find light and beauty in your darkest times.”
On Kate’s podcast, Mari recited a poem that explores this idea of embracing our painful experiences and transforming them into meaning.
I want to carry pain like a tree does:
Let the rings of my experiences push me to grow wider and stronger.
I never want to forget each ring that holds everything I’ve witnessed, loved, and lost…
But I want to keep expanding.
I love this poem!
And I also loved Kate’s closing blessing to this podcast. Here is an excerpt of her ending words:
In-between can be an awfully lonely place. So, my loves, bless you if you are there, in that place that is in-between: liminal, exposed. That place of waiting and vulnerability, a place that doesn’t fit anyone’s idea of normal because there aren’t words for it, and it isn’t there yet. So, instead of trying to escape it, let us settle there for a moment. … Bless all of it: the way we might widen our gaze to encompass and embrace it. And bless you, moving into the unknown, waiting, daring to hope. ~ Kate Bowler