Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation

Mirabai Starr is an interspiritual author and speaker who leads retreats internationally on the mystics and the contemplative life. She is a perfect example of multiple religious participation (MPRing) with Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi shadings. Starr has taught world religions and is best known for her heralded translations of Dark Night of the Soul by the 16th century Spanish mystic St John of the Cross and The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. We gave God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam an award as one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2012. For more about Mirabai's work, visit www.mirabaistarr.com.

The title of this book comes from the inscription on the mystic poet Rumi's shrine in Konya, Turkey:

"Come, come, whoever you are!
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter!
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come!
Even if you've broken your vow a thousand times,
Come, yet again, come, come."

This describes the Sufi path of surrendering to what is. In this heart affecting memoir, Starr struggles with the devastating and alchemical nature of grief as she undergoes this purgative process first with the death of her brother and then, on the day The Dark Night of the Soul was published, her adopted daughter Jenny was killed in an automobile accident. With great feeling, she invites us to step into "the shattered landscape of a mother's heart." What happens emotionally?

"I simply sat with my loss and allowed myself to become acquainted with my desolation. 'It's just unbearable anguish' became my mantra, which I uttered silently and with an ironic smile whenever the pain came at me like a freight train. Then I lay down in its tracks and investigated what it felt like to be run over.

As I learned to abide in the wreckage, a realization began to grow in me. You are shattered, yes, said my inner voice. Do not be in a rush to put the pieces back together. Go ahead and be nobody for as long as you can.

"And so I did."

Starr tutors us in some of the practices that grow out of our relationship with any grief or unutterable loss. They include staying present, standing in the fire of emptiness, letting go, opening to heartfulness, forgiving oneself, and saying yes to the mystery. She also helps us understand that this painful experience cannot be programmed to end.

Let Mirabai Starr guide you on an enlightening and life-affirming journey through grief.

On the day her first book came out—a new translation of Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross—Mirabai Starr’s daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident. “My spiritual life began the day my daughter died,” writes Mirabai. Even with decades of spiritual practice and a deep immersion in the greatest mystical texts, she found herself utterly unprepared for “my most powerful catalyst for transformation, my fiercest and most compassionate teacher.”

With Caravan of No Despair, Mirabai shares an irreverent, uplifting, and intimate memoir of her extraordinary life journey. Through the many twists and turns of her life—including a tangled relationship with a charlatan-guru, her unexpected connection with the great Christian mystics, and the loss of her daughter—Mirabai finds the courage to remain open and defenseless before the mystery of the divine. “Tragedy and trauma are not guarantees for a transformational spiritual experience,” writes Mirabai Starr, “but they are opportunities. They are invitations to sit in the fire and allow it to transfigure us.”

I trust you enjoy the nurturing audio interview below. Remembering that grief is a process that can never be rushed.