Film Review: A Way to Forgiveness

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A Way to Forgiveness

Produced and directed by Erin R. Dooley
D.A.S.H. Entertainment, 2016
Run time: 45 minutes

Reviewed by Amy Horton | Warrenton, MO

A Way to Forgiveness film review.

A Way to Forgiveness is a documentary film following the pilgrimage of Erin Dooley as she walks the Camino Francés to heal from her divorce and forgive her ex-husband for his betrayals during their marriage of more than a dozen years.

Along the way, Erin discusses betrayal and forgiveness with fellow pilgrims. The hurt we inflict on each other. Stepping into the shoes of the people who have hurt us and understanding what led them to their transgressions. The connection between forgiveness and reconciliation, and if and how to forgive someone who refuses to apologize or accept responsibility for his actions. Whether one must forget to forgive. And understanding what holds us back from forgiving.

Throughout the film, Erin shares raw and vulnerable moments as she processes her emotional pain. She also highlights lessons in forgiveness she discerns along her journey. And we witness milestones marking Erin’s progress toward forgiveness.

At Alto de Perdón—the summit of forgiveness—Erin isn’t yet emotionally ready to forgive her ex-husband; however, as she buries her 10th-anniversary ring beneath a rock at the base of the iconic sculpture of pilgrims in silhouette, she is ready to forgive herself for her own failings in their marriage.

A bit beyond León, Erin realizes her struggle to forgive her ex-husband is a test in her trust in God. Once she lets go of worrying about her ex-husband’s unwillingness to repent and chooses to let God handle that, she begins to clear a path in her heart to forgiveness. Shortly after this epiphany, she comes upon a pile of rocks in the middle of the dirt path and is compelled to spell out FORGIVE—a spontaneous and symbolic setting down of stones just days before a more quintessential point on the Camino Francés for that practice.

Upon reaching the Cruz de Ferro, that iron cross where pilgrims symbolically lay down their burdens, Erin has achieved her stated reason for walking the Camino. At the foot of the cross, she leaves a rock from the house she and her husband shared and on which she has written, “Forgive him.”

She carries out her final rite of healing upon arrival in Santiago: at the Pilgrim’s Mass, she places her wedding band in the collection basket along with a note of explanation. Then, she walks on to Finisterre—the end of the Earth—and the beginning of a new season of life.

Editor’s note: Erin’s journey of learning and sharing about forgiveness continues beyond her Camino. She has released a series of video reflections called the “Forgiveness Minute” as well as an extension of her documentary in the three-episode series “Walks to Forgive,” in which she takes others on long hikes as they share their forgiveness stories. Erin is also available for in-person and virtual film screening events to share her message of forgiveness. The film is available for streaming and on DVD. Learn more at AWAYTOFORGIVENESS.WEEBLY.COM.

Erin walked the Camino Francés. Learn more about it on our Francés route overview.

This review was featured in our Fall 2023 issue of La Concha. The theme was “Seasons of the Way”, and you can find the full issue in our archive here

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