Day 6: Annie O’Neil

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(Note: Annie O’Neil is a documentary film maker. You can catch her work at some links listed below.)

Dear Annie:

There are all kinds of creative people. The ones who understand how their gift carries a responsibility, and a certain redemptive capacity, have always been my most admired.

You’ve been a part of that redemptive process for me and I thought you should know.

It seems just like yesterday I was surfing the internet and dreaming, looking for somescreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-6-07-54-am inspiration and the hope for happier times. It was one of those times down in the valley when depression creeps in and you begin doing what you can to claw your way out of the mire. The crawl usually begins with a change in scenery and something that challenges the body and the spirit. A video clip called Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago caught my attention, and so I watched.

It was beautiful, funny, sad, joyful, even a little intimidating. In the six scenarios featured in that film, a pilgrim they called Annie caught my attention. Her story especially resonated at that moment.

Annie was having a hard time. She was tired. Carrying a heavy load. Things weren’t going necessarily as planned. It was hard enough at one point, Annie just started crying.

As you sat on that bed in Castrojeriz wondering about tomorrow, I cried with you.

My situation was different, but I understood everything you were going through. As screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-6-52-46-amyou told your story, it made me feel human again. Sometimes, the heavy load is just too much to bear. The baggage has to go, the load lightened. I’m so thankful you told that story, but mostly, I’m so glad you lightened your load and kept going. Onward you went. Ultreia.

That was a special work you helped create, Annie. It’s one of my top two favorite Camino de Santiago documentaries. The other one? Well, it’s a little jewel they call Phil’s Camino. Cried for that one too! But you know that since you were right there. Ha.

Annie and me at the Hot Springs Film Festival for the screening of Phil's Camino.

Annie and me at the Hot Springs Film Festival for the screening of Phil’s Camino.

We dropped everything to see you and Phil and Roni that October day in Hot Springs. To be honest, it was a highlight for my 2016. What is it about this long, dusty, muddy, rocky, road that connects us all the way it does? In some ways it feels we’re all closer than kin. Whatever it is, I’m thankful for it.

And for you, too, Annie. Thank you for recognizing your creative gift and for using it for the greater good. Pat Conroy once said … “The most powerful words in the English language are, ‘Tell me a story.'”

Thank you for inspiring me and redeeming me, and being a part of helping me to understand my real value, as I know you’ve done for many others. Thank you for taking your eyes off yourself and looking outward.

You’ll always be one of my favorite pilgrims. Stay on The Way. Don’t stop walking the path.

Your camino brother,

Steve

3 thoughts on “Day 6: Annie O’Neil

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