Singing the Song of a Loving, Affirming God

June 18, 2020

This blog reflection is part of an ongoing series, Pride with Mercy, that began during Pride Month 2019. These reflections grew out of the Sisters of Mercy’s Chapter 2017 Declaration challenging each of us to respond to those who suffer from oppressive systems and to “become better educated and to participate in engaged dialogue on issues of gender identity and sexual orientation.” We encourage you to forward these posts to someone who might need to read them. Together, may we grow in our tolerance, acceptance and understanding, and extend a hand of welcome to the LGBTQ+ community.

By Anne Boettcher

“Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night…”

I came across this song just the other day while looking for music for a virtual retreat I was helping to plan. It brought back many memories. Written by Dan Schutte, one of the St. Louis Jesuits, it was released the year after I graduated from high school and has accompanied me throughout my adult life. While studying theology in college and later grad school, this song was familiar background during prayer and reflection times.

As a lesbian woman (though I wasn’t aware of my orientation at that time), I’ve always felt extremely blessed to have had teachers in my life who helped me relate to the “Lord” of this song as someone who created me as I am and loves me deeply. Unlike others in the LGBTQ+ family, I’ve never had to contend with a warped image of a judging, wrathful God condemning me for who I would eventually discover myself to be.

When I was teaching theology in a Catholic high school in the 1980s and 1990s, “Here I am, Lord” was a mainstay for masses and other liturgical services. The directness of the dialogue has always grabbed my attention. While I know my God to be kind and loving, She is no pushover; like any good mother, sister, friend, She wants me to grow and become my best self.

The challenge to come to terms with my sexual orientation in my mid 30s was a call more difficult than any I’d faced up to that point. I had studied the few passages in the Bible used to condemn same-sex love (scripture scholar Daniel Helminiak is great), and I knew that loving, consensual same-sex relationships between adults were never talked about there. This lifestyle, in my mind and heart, was not sinful. The challenge to me was acknowledging my orientation in a society that would hate and possibly hurt me for being who I am. Still, when I fearfully asked, “Is it I, Lord” who is a lesbian, I received loving and supportive affirmation.

Some readers may be familiar with my story from the SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) presentation my spouse Mary and I were part of last September. When Mary and I met in the early 2000s, loving her was the most natural, life-giving experience, and her love helped me understand and relate to God’s love for me in deeper and more embodied ways. After we had our commitment ceremony in 2003, we felt called to take time off and serve with other people on the margins. “We will go Lord, if You lead us” became our daily prayer, but we had a difficult time finding a program that would accept us as a couple. We didn’t need to be out to the people with whom we were serving but didn’t want to hide our relationship from the other volunteers. It was really tough feeling called but not being allowed to come as ourselves.

But then we found Mercy Volunteer Corps (MVC), and they said yes! Our first night at orientation retreat, we sat in the chapel for evening prayer, and as they sang “Here I am, Lord,” we looked at each other through happy tears, knowing we’d found a new home.


I am now on staff with MVC supporting the volunteer communities in Sacramento and San Francisco, California, and St. Michaels on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Mercy is still our spiritual home, and Mary and I make our physical home in Tucson, Arizona, where God still calls to us through the saguaros and sunrises of our beautiful desert.

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  1. Frances Marie Demarco

    The Sisters and staffs in Baltimore were truly blessed to have Anne and Mary live and serve with us for their year in MVC. One of the most beautiful outcomes of that year was witnessing the transformation that occurred within and among us by their presence and the richness of their journey. At the end of their service year, I remember them saying, “We came to serve and found community.” Anne, blessings to you and Mary as you give witness to the beauty of diversity and love.


  2. Cecilia Baranowski

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story again.


  3. JOHN MCLOUGHLIN

    While you responded “here i am Lord”, your story, your faith, your courage and your willingness to be who you really were created to be that always affirms for me, God using you to be “here I am” for many of us. Much love and gratitude for the path to Baltimore and continue path in my life.


  4. Kathi Scully

    #MakingMercyReal. Big, big hat tip and much regard.

    Kathi Scully, Mercy Associate
    Local Coordinator, Mercy Association, Pittsburgh


  5. Margaret Platte

    I read this reflection on the feast of the Sacred Heart. The photo of the heart caught my attention. A heart open to every color of the rainbow! Thanks for sharing your love story.


  6. Mary E. Haas

    God’s timing is perfect! I came across your beautiful story quite by accident today.
    It is exactly what I needed to hear…thank you very much and may you and Mary continue to share your light and love with others.


  7. Kathy Wade, Mercy Associate

    Thank you for sharing your moving story, and being another face of Mercy to us all.


  8. Margaret Downing

    I too was in Baltimore during the time that Anne and Mary ministered in MVC. It was a wonderful experience for me also. I had lost track of where you are, Anne, but I am so happy to know that you both are still called to be Mercy presence. Both of you are often in my thoughts and prayers, especially when I reflect on the years that we were all in Baltimore.


  9. Richard Mary Burke

    Anne,
    I am inspired by your gifts of faith, transparency and integrity. Thank you for deepening my faith and challenging us all to seek the authenticity of WHO we are as God wills us to be. Blessings!


  10. Katherine Mroz

    Keep those beautiful, affirmative messages coming!
    God bless you
    Katherine


  11. Sarah Halter

    God created each of us to discover our unique journey….God never makes mistakes and God never makes junk! Just because the world society still struggles with this issue just shows evolution still has much room for us to grow.
    May God bless each of us on our journey of discovery , acceptance, and growth.


  12. Angela Reed

    Thanks for this reflection Anne


  13. margretta dwyer

    Thanks for sharing a LOVING STORY.


  14. Michelle Gorman

    Thank you, Anne. It is an honor to know you and work with you.


  15. Christine Rome

    Thank you for sharing ….you’re both a blessing to all.


  16. Sue w

    Anne and Mary, thank you for sharing your story and for all the work you continue to do wherever the Spirit calls you. The Sisters of Mercy have always been a loving, accepting presence in my life as well and I am forever grateful for their support.


  17. Sue Fuss

    Moderator:
    Please change “Sue w” to “Sue Fuss” – typo on my part
    Thanks