By Sheila Cassidy
Sheila Cassidy defines herself as “lapsed” in the sense that – for the moment anyway – she does not attend Mass or receive the sacraments. But that does not mean that she has cut herself off from God or worship. Every page is full of her ongoing and intensely spiritual communion with the God who is “everywhere, in everything, shining forth if only we care to look.”
Like Barbara Brown Taylor, she has discovered the divine presence waiting to be found “in the sea, in the mountains, in the gentle alcoholics who greet me as I walk my dogs … I have only to acknowledge his presence to know him as powerfully as if I had received the bread and wine.” What does it say about our churches that two such remarkable women found they must leave them in order to become closer to God?
Having shared her reflections on churchgoing (or not) in the early pages, the majority of this book focuses on finding God, whether in the other, in the written word or in the natural world, and on what might be a proper response to the divine. Along the way she shares generously out of her own experience, which has shown her both the best and the worst that human beings can do to one another. Never again will I read the story of the loaves and fishes without thinking of how her small cake became dessert for 80 women in a Chilean prison.
At the heart of this book, I think you will find an image of what it means to try and live out Micah’s instruction to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God. Sheila Cassidy is honest about her struggles, but overall she has found that, in the words of the old hymn, “the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.” If this is what it means to be “lapsed”, may we all be so blessed.
Reviewed by Norma Fergusson, STETs Student