"In February 1992, Neale Donald Walsch had a mystical experience that set his life on an extraordinary new path. This experience has sparked a glorious new career ? one that has helped comfort and inspire many millions of people. At age 49, Walsch found his career as a nationally syndicated radio host failing, along with his personal relationships and his health. In a fit of despair, he sat down to write an angry letter to God: ""What have I done to deserve a life of such continuing struggle?"" And to his amazement, he received an answer.
Now, Walsch's Conversations with God has been published for all to read, becoming a staple on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list for more than 129 weeks or two and a half years. And Walsch has since founded ReCreation, a non-profit organization that sponsors lectures, programs, seminars, workshops, and retreats across the country for persons interested in spiritual and personal growth. As Walsch describes in his newest book, FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD, he can now look back at his many previous careers and experiences and realize they have all been instrumental in his current vocation.
As a student at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Walsch excelled in the classes he enjoyed ? English, speech, political science, music, foreign languages ? but his poor performance in other courses led him to be put on academic probation and eventually to leave school altogether. However, Walsch was excited about embarking on what he thought of then as his chosen career: broadcasting. By the age of 19, Walsch was working full-time for a major station in Annapolis, Maryland; this time, he remembers, it was a job for ""real"" radio ? ""AM, the kind they had in cars!"" By his 21st birthday, he'd become the station's production manager. Walsch went on to work for a station in the deep South, and then for an all-African American station in Baltimore as program director, experiences, he says, that helped him better understand racial attitudes in America.
Moving from the spoken to the written word, he then worked as a news reporter for The Evening Capital, Annapolis' daily newspaper. ""Nothing can give you a liberal education faster than being a newspaper reporter,"" Walsch says, ""especially at the paper-of-record in a small town, because you cover everything. Everything."" Walsch eventually became a full reporter/photographer, before moving on to become managing editor of another Annapolis paper, The Anne Arundel Times. In addition to interacting with a wide range of people, these experiences showed Walsh, he says, ""that I could call forth these talents by simply pressing myself to do so. . . God was telling me something that I have used countless times since: life begins at the end of your comfort zone.""
Other careers followed his stint in journalism. After a brief period working in county government and local politics, Walsch took a job as public information officer for one of the nation's largest public school systems, where he says he ""received more incredible life training."" He remained in that position for ten years, at the end of which he began volunteering with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
After Kubler-Ross ""kidnapped"" Walsch, bringing him along for a workshop in Poughkeepsie where, to his surprise, she announced him as ""her new PR man,"" Walsch became a full-time member of her staff. It was Kubler-Ross who reawakened Walsch's spirituality and desire to connect with God. ""As I approached 40,"" he says, ""Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was bringing me back to God. Over and over she spoke of a God of unconditional love, who would never judge, but would only accept us just as we are.""
Walsch next moved to San Diego, where he started his own advertising and public relations firm called ""The Group."" Despite some success with the firm, Walsch found himself unfulfilled by this work, and began a period of wandering in search of a better life, first in Klickitat, Washington, then in Portland, Oregon, where he hoped to get a fresh start. Instead, he suffered a series of crushing blows ? a fire that destroyed all of his belongings, the break-up of his marriage, a car accident that left him with a broken neck.
Once recovered but alone and unemployed, Walsch was forced to live in a tent in Jackson Hot Springs, just outside Ashland, Oregon, collecting beer cans and soda in order to eat. At the time, Walsch thought his life had come to an end. But Walsch met a number of remarkable people who taught him otherwise; the homeless people who befriended Walsch even helped him jump-start his career, chipping in for bus fare to an interview for a new job in radio broadcasting. Walsch is now able to look back on these troubling times and say, ""I bless the day I trudged to that park, lugging my camping gear with me, for it was not the end of my life at all but the beginning. I learned in that park about loyalty and honesty and authenticity and trust.""
All of Walsch's life experiences, the good and the bad, have helped prepare him, he says, to be a ""communicator of God's love."" Recounting much of his personal story in his new book, FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD, Walsch says, ""A part of me (my soul?) must have known that I would be dealing with people from all backgrounds and experiences, and interacting with them in deeply personal ways. To do this requires highly developed communication skills, and rich exposure to people from varied cultures and walks of life."" Walsch's past experiences provided him with those vital skills, and demonstrated one of the main messages of his wonderfully inspiring books: Nothing happens by accident. There is a plan. And conversing with ? and befriending ? God, is all a part of it.
Walsch wrote the foreword to The Dark Side of The Light Chasers, also at BookBrowse."