Lent as a Camino

   “Your Camino starts when you arrive in Santiago,” filmmaker Erin Dooley said to those who had come to watch her documentary on forgiveness at the end of January.

    Cinema for the Soul is a monthly event at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Redlands that Brandie Morrison started as a way for people to deepen their faith through movies. While the ministry is in its seventh year this is the first time Morrison has had the filmmaker in attendance.

    A Way to Forgiveness: Healing on the Camino de Santiago is a raw, emotional look at how Dooley found the grace she needed to forgive her former husband after a painful divorce. As part of her healing process she walked the Camino in northern Spain, and as a filmmaker she made the decision to document her journey.as she went knowing this would be another way to find the healing she needed.

    Being a pilgrimage first and foremost she was traveling lightly, including film equipment. This minimal camera approach allowed for rougher footage that added to the rawness and pain she was experiencing. Dooley said that seems to either work for the film or against it. For many viewers it helps them to be drawn into her experience, while others find it too “emotional.” Last month’s audience were drawn into her pain seeing Christ in her suffering, and going by the comments and questions asked afterwards, they were moved by her courage to put her journey through divorce to film.

    Dooley was asked afterwards if it was hard to be present when her documentary is shown. She answered no because of her hair. Before embarking on the Camino she had cut off all her hair. Cutting her hair was a way to let go of the last of her old self, meaning her married self. When she watches her film in a group she can “disassociate” with the person on film. Dooley, who has since grown her hair back out to her shoulders, said she treats herself “as a character in a movie,” and in a way is watching someone else.

    Throughout the film and during the short talk afterwards, Dooley’s Catholic faith was evident. Though she went on the Camino to forgive her ex-husband, trusting in God was a theme that wove its way through her entire 550 mile walk. Like many people who undertake such a big venture she started out with a plan but had to continually adjust it. Over and over as unplanned things came up or emotions surfaced unexpectedly she had to trust God was listening to her and guiding her even in those moments when the Lord was disturbingly silent.

    At one point Dooley was in “the middle of Spain, in the middle of nowhere, with no one in sight for miles around” and suddenly felt a deep and shattering loneliness. However, many hours later when she was on Facebook she saw a posting that said, “I hear your prayer” and knew God had been with her in that dark moment.

    “The Camino starts in Santiago,” those in attendance now understood because, as Dooley finished, “it starts when you take it home with you.”

    As we walk through the “Camino” of Lent, seeking healing and restoration, we trust God to guide us in our daily sojourn. Like the Camino Lent truly begins when you take it home with you.

    Every Friday Erin Dooley posts a reflection on forgiveness called The Forgiveness Minute. Only about a minute long, as its name implies, these make fitting reflections for Lent whether forgiveness is a specific Lent focus or not:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/AWayToForgiveness/ .

by Anne Alhadef

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