Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale about That Which Can Never Die

Overview

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D., the internationally known poet, psychoanalyst, and author of the seminal classic Women Who Run With The Wolves (99 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, translated into eighteen languages, and a bestseller worldwide), touches our lives anew, rendering in the strong and lyrical voice for which she has become known a powerful series of her signature healing stories.

These elegantly interlocked tales of loss, survival, and fierce rebirth center...

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Overview

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D., the internationally known poet, psychoanalyst, and author of the seminal classic Women Who Run With The Wolves (99 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, translated into eighteen languages, and a bestseller worldwide), touches our lives anew, rendering in the strong and lyrical voice for which she has become known a powerful series of her signature healing stories.

These elegantly interlocked tales of loss, survival, and fierce rebirth center around Dr. Estes's uncle, a war-ravaged Hungarian peasant farmer and refugee, a faithful gardener, and a storehouse of stories who was one of the "dancing fools, wise old crows, grumpy sages, and 'almost saints' who made up the old people" in Estés's childhood.

Told with graceful simplicity, deep feeling, generous humor, and profound optimism, The Faithful Gardener is, at its captivating core, the story of an open-hearted child who listened well to her old-country elders and who grew up to remember, to bear witness, and, as one of the premier storytellers of our times, to remind readers and listeners of all ages of "that magisterial life force within all things that strengthens us in times of turmoil or transition, that faithful force which can never die."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Renowned Jungian psychologist and poet Estes (Women Who Run with the Wolves, Ballantine, 1992; The Gift of Story, Ballantine, 1994) writes a beautiful allegory in her latest volume. Growing up in a refugee family, Estes learns the art of storytelling in the ancient tradition. In graceful prose, she relates the story of her Hungarian Uncle Zovar, a concentration camp survivor, in his struggle to release himself from the horrors of camp life. A "story within a story" is illustrated through the uncle's narration of the burning death and rebirth of his forest during World War II. Estes includes her own rendition of the Christmas tree story: the tree in the forest cut down, adorned at the house, then burned as firewood in the end. She relates the story of her own urban forest started in her back yard, inspired by her uncle's thoughts on nature. Estes's style is charming, spellbinding, and lyrical. Followers will clamor for more. Highly recommended.-Lisa Wise, EBSCO, Springfield, Va.
Ray Olson
Since the megaselling "Women Who Run with the Wolves" (1992), Estes has squeezed out two diminutive volumes, of which this is the second. It is a story within a story within a story within a story within a story. First up: the biblical Creation story inflected so that God makes everything because of a loneliness best answered by the stories people live. That master story leads into the story of Estes' Hungarian immigrant uncle; that into the uncle's story about "This Man" (a farmer displaced by war, as he was); and that into a story about a fir tree that becomes a Christmas tree, then firewood, then fertilizer for new trees. That last story is the one, promised by the book's subtitle, about "That Which Can Never Die," which, one gathers, is the life force itself. Sentimental as bronzed baby shoes and written in a diction that seems a parody of Anthony Quinn as Zorba, may it please, or at least entice, Estes' band of lopers with the lupines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062513809
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 382,157
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.37 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. is an award-winning poet, diplomate senior jungian psychoanalyst, and a cantadora (keeper of the old stories) in the Hispanic tradition. She has been in private practice for twenty-five years and is former executive director of the C. G. Jung Center for Research and Education in the United States. The author of The Gift of Story and an eleven-volume series of bestselling audio works published by Sounds True in Boulder, Colorado, Dr. Estés heads the C. P Estés Guadalupe Foundation, a human rights organization that has as one of its nascent missions the broadcasting of strengthening stories via shortwave radio to trouble spots throughout the world.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Within This Small Book There Are Several stories. Like Matriochka dolls, they fit one inside the other.

Among my people, both Magyar and Mexicano, we have long traditions of telling stories while we work at our daily labors. Questions about the living of life, especially those pertaining to matters of heart and soul, are most often answered by telling a story or a series of tales. We consider story our living relative, and so it seems to us completely sensible that as one friend invites another friend to join in the conversation, so, too, a certain story calls forth a specific second story, which in turn evokes a third story, and frequently a fourth and a fifth, and occasionally several more, until the answer to a single question has become several stories long.

So, according to our rustic practices you can see why, before I tell you this singular story about That Which Can Never Die, I must first tell you the story of my uncle, an old peasant farmer who survived the horrors of World War II in Hungary. He brought the essence of this story through burning forests, through memories of unutterable events of days and nights in slave labor camps. He brought the seed of this story over oceans in the dark of steerage to America. He sheltered this story as he rode black trains through the golden fields along the northern border that separates Canada from the United States. Through all this and much more, he held the spirit of the story in a refuge near his heart, somehow managing to hold it safely away from the wars crackling inside him.

But even before Itell Uncle's story, I must tell you the story he told me about "This Man," the old farmer he knew in the old country who attempted to defend a young and precious grove of trees from being destroyed by a marauding foreign army.

However, in order to tell you the story of "This Man," I must first tell you a story about how stories were created to begin with, for without the creation of stories, there would be no stories to tell at all — no story about stories, no story about my uncle, no story about "This Man," and no story about That Which Can Never Die — and the rest of the pages of this book would remain as unwritten upon as the autumn moon.

In my family, the old ones practiced a tradition called "make-story," this being a time — often over a meal rich in aromas of fresh onions, warm bread, and spicy rice-sausage — when the elders encouraged the young to weave tales, poems, and other pieces. The old ones laughed with one another as they ate. To us they said, "We are going to test you to see if you are gaining any knowledge worth having. Come, come now, give us a story from scratch. Let us see you flex your story muscles."

This story about stories was one of the first I wove as a young child.

The Creation of Stories

How did stories come into being?' Ah, stories came into the world because God was lonely.

God was lonely? Oh, yes, for you see, the void at the beginning of time was very dark. The void was dark because it was so tightly packed with stories that not even one story stood out from the others.

Stories were therefore without form, and the face of God moved over the deep, searching and searching — for a story. And God's loneliness was very great.

Finally, a great idea rose up, and God whispered, "Let there be light."

And there was light so great that God was able to reach into the void and separate the dark stories from the stories of light. As a result, clear morning stories came to life, and fine evening tales as well. And God saw that it was good.

Now God felt encouraged, and next separated the heavenly stories from the earthly stories, and these from the stories about water. Then God took great joy in creating the small and the tall trees and brilliantly colored seeds and plants, so that there could be stories about the trees and seeds, and plants, too.

God laughed with pleasure, and from God's laughter fell the stars and the sky into their places. God set into the sky the golden light, the sun, to rule the day, and the moon, the silver light, to rule the night. And in all, God created these so that there would be stories about the stars and the moon, stories about the sun, and stories about all the mysteries of night.

God was so pleased with these that God turned to creating birds, sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, every fish and all the plants under the sea, and every winged creature, and all the cattle and creeping things, and all the beasts of the earth, according to their kind. And from all these came stories about God's winged messengers, and stories about ghosts and monsters, and tales of whales and fishes, and other stories about life before life knew itself, about all that had life now, and all that would come to life one day.

Yet even with all these wondrous creatures and all these magnificent stories, even with all the pleasures of creating, God was still lonely.

God paced and thought, and thought and paced, and finally! it came to our great Creator. "Ah. Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them care for, and be cared for in return, by all creatures of the seas, all those of the air, and all those of the earth."

So God created human beings from the dust of the ground, and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, and human beings became living souls: male and female God created them.

Faithful Gardener. Copyright © by Clarissa Pin Estes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is a beautiful and powerful rendition of an ancient theme, the ever-renewing quality of life itself. Written in classical fairytale format, it tells the story of injury and loss reborn into new healing, life, and beauty. Inspiring!

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