As we approach Easter, a number of people -- Christian Ministers and priests included -- have encouraged me to share the backstory of how the content for The Forty Days – A Vision of Christ’s Lost Weeks, came to me. They have done so understanding the risk of doubt, ridicule, or worse I might face in the telling of the story.
They believe, that in a nation and world spiraling deeper into chaos and uncertainty, and as more and more people turn their back on their faith, that a story such as this might speak to them on a deeper level. Or at the very least, remind them of the miracles and messages of Easter.
Understanding that, what follows is that backstory:
As a child, I grew up in abject poverty and was often homeless. By the time I was seventeen years of age, we had been evicted from thirty-four homes. At five years of age, my most precious possession had become a little plastic Nativity scene. As that five-year-old, when the police and movers came to evict us yet again, I remember hiding in a closet with that little Nativity scene and being comforted by the tiny smiling face of the Baby Jesus.
Thus began my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
As an adult, over the last ten years or so, I would have momentary flashes in my mind regarding The Forty Days. The unexpected thought always along the lines of: “there is a powerful story there. Tell it.”
These flashes would happen once or twice a year and last for but a few seconds at time. Other than make a note somewhere, I did not give them another moment’s consideration.
A few years ago, my wife walked into my home office and looked up at a yellow sticky on the wall with the words “The Forty Days” written on it. She asked me what it was and I told her I truly did not know.
Then, just over a year ago, while sitting in that home office working on an entirely different project, within but a few minutes, the entire book for The Forty Days flooded into my mind. Names, places, and story. I picked up a pen and made notes as fast as possible and then for the next ten hours or so, stayed at my desk and wrote basically the entire book in one sitting.
I will never claim anything remotely “spiritual” happened. Ever. That said, I can honestly say I am not sure what did happen. No doubt some will offer up perfectly logical secular explanations for how something like that does occur and I am more than okay with that.
Whatever it was, at least for me, it was surreal, powerful and moving.
A brief description of the story which came into my head that day is this:
Seventy years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in a poor, one room home built from stone, mud, and straw located just outside of Jerusalem, a frail old man tells his granddaughter and her husband of an amazing and miraculous secret. A secret that, out of fear for his safety, he kept to himself for decades. That being that as an orphaned nine-year old street urchin who had made his way to Jerusalem, he had an encounter with a “bloody and beaten” man being forced to drag a heavy timber cross for His own crucifixion. An encounter which led to a very special connection with the “bloody and beaten” man. The old man then goes on to tell his granddaughter and her husband of what he witnessed first-hand as that little boy, of the forty days Jesus walked the earth after His resurrection.
Leaving aside how or why this little book came into my mind, I do believe I was supposed to tell this innocent story at this time.
Former Senator Elizabeth Dole – who kindly told me it was “one of the most beautifully told, deeply faith-affirming books” she had ever read – has also encouraged me to let potential readers know I did not take a dime for the book and that at least for me, the only thing you do with a book like this is help charity in His name.
If you do choose to read The Forty Days, I hope and pray it touches and speaks to you in some way.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir "The Forty Days: A Vision of Christ's Lost Weeks." (Simon & Schuster, 2016).