Love is never lost.

Love is never lost.

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you, or shared any news. 2013 marked a turning point in my life—a shedding of everything I thought to be true. In the midst of a divorce, I hit rock bottom. And yet, despite the darkness and despair, I found a way to stay healthy and strong for my young daughter.

I hiked. I prayed. I got back on my bicycle and made friends with the road and the dirt, and the space afforded me, ironically, as a result of co-parenting.

This wasn’t my beautiful life, I told myself, ashamed and terrified. But it was—and the longer I held that picture of perfection, the more I suffered until it shattered.

One day on a hike, it struck me that I had the answer to climbing out of the darkness. While writing DAMASCENA, I had just spent the last decade studying the life and work of the great Persian poet and mystic, Rumi, whose definition of a Sufi was “one who is able to experience joy in the midst of great disappointment.”

Had I been preparing myself for this tragedy? Or had writing the book been merely a coincidence? Was it truly possible to find joy in the midst of all this pain? Yes. Yes! Not only was it possible, finding joy was the only choice I had—unless I believed depression would serve me and my daughter better.

I stopped on the trail and laughed for the first time in months. I understood what Rumi was saying. Find joy. That’s it. Find joy! I looked around and noticed purple iris rings blooming early in mid-February. I felt a small joy. It was momentary, but it was real.

Each day, I looked for some small joy to know that I was stronger than the pain. And each night, I prayed for more joy.

Over the months, Rumi’s wisdom delivered me back to my heart. I realized the divorce didn’t break my heart after all. It broke it open. Wherever you find your heart today, I hope you can trust the love never leaves. Just claim the love as yours—and share it.

If you live in the Bay Area, I hope to see you June 5 from 7 – 11 p.m., Fort Mason, San Francisco, for a book launch and Rumi rave to benefit Litquake. Wine, words, ecstatic dance! We hope it will be a truly transformational night for everyone. The Sufi Mariam Baker will be performing the sacred dance, sema, and after the reading, I invite you all to get down on the dance floor and share the love for this wonderful, wild and often crazy life.

“Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.”
-from The Turn by Rumi

Lastly, as a Valentine’s Day gift, I wanted to share the first few chapters of DAMASCENA with you. I hope you enjoy the journey.
Damascena: the story of roses and Rumi by Holly Payne

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