We all want to believe that there’s a place between Heaven and Earth where the magic never ends, but how many of us ever get the chance to visit that sacred ground? In the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to spend several days in the space “in-between,” and the result was a book I feel I was born to write: The Barn Dance. The story may begin in sorrow, but it concludes with the hope that life doesn’t end with death. It’s just the beginning.
Three days after Thanksgiving in 2005, the woman I married when I was 23, raised a child with and considered my best friend, was murdered in her apartment outside Chicago. Linda was the type of woman you couldn’t help but love, and I wasn’t the only person who felt that way. I always said that if you didn’t like her, then there’s something wrong with you, not her. In many ways she was the example of how to live a loving, service-oriented life. Her senseless death was more than a blow; it was the type of shock I was afraid I would never recover from.
“You’ll never get over this, but there will come a day when it’s no longer over you.” Those were the words spoken by my friend Neale Donald Walsch, who flew to Chicago the day after the tragedy to stand at my side. Three and a half years after Linda’s death, I realized he was right. The clouds seemed to be parting, and even though I still missed her, the profound sadness seemed to have lifted.
The fact that this realization only lasted a matter of hours surprised me, though. An email came with news I didn’t expect: “Someone just confessed to Linda’s murder.” I went from feeling healed to diving back into the thick of despair.
The story centers around an experience my daughter and I had when we were traveling from Chicago back to Oregon immediately after Linda’s funeral. While driving along a small highway in Nevada that hugged the side of a terrifying cliff, we found ourselves caught in a blizzard and nearly went over the edge. Several years later, when I first heard that someone was in custody for Linda’s murder, I felt compelled to return to that cliff, and though the thought seemed alien and strange, I decided to follow.
I drove five hours to the remote highway and hiked to the bottom where I ultimately discovered a remarkable barn, a place where dreams came true. Imagine finding a place where the barriers separating the physical and spiritual dimensions begin to blur, and you suddenly find yourself dancing in a barn with people who are not meant for this world. And imagine if, in the midst of that amazing gathering, you met the one person you thought you would never see again, the person who held the key to the greatest lesson of your life. This is what I encountered in the wilderness of Nevada, and though it will seem impossible to some, to many more it will be the answer to a prayer.
Since then I’ve tried to find ways to help others make similar connections with their loved ones. In a recent scientific test called DreamDancing, over 50 percent of the people involved had at least one connection with a loved one on the other side of the veil, an actual face-to-face conversation that they were able to verify at a later time. Over 300 people participated in the study, and I believe we’ve begun laying the groundwork for a whole new exciting field. In the past, we thought we needed mediums or psychics to help us make contact with the other side, but now it seems to be possible for almost anyone. Because of the success of the study, we’ve decided to open it up to the general public, giving everyone the possibility to connect with loved ones they thought they had lost [visit www.dream-dancing.com].
The events I describe in The Barn Dance changed my life, and the book is already touching thousands of people in a similar way. The magical adventure I experienced is something everyone can relate to, because we’ve all lost people we love, tragically or otherwise. The experience of grief is the same, and so is the hope that comes when we realize our loved ones never have left at all, but are still with us in a way that is intimate and real. That was what I learned from Linda, and now it’s the only thing I want to share.
People will ask about the adventure I wrote in The Barn Dance, wondering if it’s a completely true story or simply one man’s need to heal his heart through a fantastic and magical tale. I’ll answer that question even before you begin reading: To me this story is completely true, but in a way most people will find surprising. If you believe that we really do live in a magical universe and that dreams do come true, then you’ll probably believe every word you read. If not, then that’s fine, as well.
As for me, I believe that there really is a barn in the middle of a secluded forest where Heaven and Earth meet, and where we really can stand side-by-side with our loved ones on the other side of the veil. I should know, because I’ve been there.