I came across this delightful little book among my husband’s ‘stuff’ while unpacking recently. The timing seems pertinent, in a world rife with turmoil and unrest. The Faithful Gardener, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, is a slim, yet impactful book that can be read in one sitting, yet reflected upon for days.
Clarissa’s Uncle Zovar was a Hungarian peasant farmer and refugee, who survived Nazi slave camps and eventually emigrated to America. With a gift of storytelling and a sacred connection to the Earth, her uncle fills her childhood with stories that later inspire this little gem. Honoring the oral traditions of her culture, it is presented as a series of interlocking tales that speak to loss, survival and rebirth. Stories that are shaped by the hopelessness and the ravages of war, yet give rise to incredible courage, strength and the force within us all to rise above and renew ourselves.
She graces us with stories that portray the cycle of life and how living and dying both serve a need and are just as beautiful and purposeful as the other. In describing the death of her uncle, she illustrates it with an air of such simplicity and elegance that it is hard not to find the beauty in it, despite her deep loss:
“When at last he prepared to leave this world, he crashed down like one of the old tall trees. And like a great tree fallen, but not severed from its roots, he lingered for several more seasons, leafing out again here and there, over a period of time, and bravely. Then one night, in a wind of the proper kind, the last bands of his old wood split apart, and he was free at last.”
So I encourage you to grab a copy of this book. Sit down one afternoon and absorb its beauty and meaning. Allow it to help you during times when you must face your own personal demons. For even in moments of great despair, Estes reminds us that:
“…. life repeats itself, renews itself, no matter how many times it is stabbed, stripped to the bone, hurled to the ground, hurt, ridiculed, ignored, scorned, looked down upon, tortured, or made helpless.”
To find your local independent bookstore to purchase this little nugget, click below: