I was raised in the Christian religion, but stopped attending church at age 13. In the last ten years, I've read lots of spirituality books--mainly Buddhist or Buddhist-inspired--by Pema Chodron, Caroline Myss, Thich Nhat Hanh, Natalie Goldberg, and others. I usually shy away from "Christian" books, but Seeding Your Soul is so much more than that, perhaps because the author is trained in Aikido and seems also Buddhist-inspired.
The book begins with a consideration of trust, illustrated by an unforgettable story of the author's casually religious Italian father and the astonishingly bountiful vegetable garden his deep and loving trust produced in a formerly empty lot behind his tailor shop. Similarly, his joyful wonder whether "there is a tree in here (in the pit of a peach he's just eaten)" yields, after he casually tosses the pit into their back yard, a peach tree that in later years bears fruit. There is no simpler, clearer illustration of the power of being open to wonder and trust.
Each chapter has a similarly striking story to illustrate the author's considerations of generosity, love, transformation, forgiveness, and healing. Chapters subtly build on the ones before them. The exercises at each chapter's end are short, doable, and very much too the point. Usually I skip exercises, but I did all of these, maybe because they didn't demand a huge chunk of time, but could easily be folded into my life. Bit by bit, I found myself moving with the author toward healing, the final chapter. I have gone through the book twice, and both times it took me further in growth, in different areas. I plan to read it again and again. The process is gentle, sometimes humorous, and always loving. I have already enjoyed many of the suggestions for further reading (books) and viewing (movies) that end each chapter--these extend the growth I've experienced in thoughtful and even fun ways.
I have bought copies of Seeding Your Soul for all my friends. It's a great "gift" book, gorgeously produced and a delight to hold and thumb through. The photographs and their captions draw you into the experience, opening you to each step. This book has brought me back to a deep respect for Christianity's teachings, something that had been drummed out of me by a strict, conservative and fundamentalist religious upbringing.
I can't wait for Dianne Costanzo's next book. She is a gifted writer and a spiritual teacher to watch.