Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Lissie and Me

Written by: on October 24, 2020

I wonder what the first thing I knew was? What also tweaks my curiosity is what the first thing was, that I had learned and realised as true. Could it have been ‘love’? I’d like to think so but, I don’t know.

Love is the best thing that I have known in my life, it has also been the most painful thing that I have known. I think that the most painful part of love for me has been in the ‘not knowing’; that is, to not really know whether or not the love of another for me is true.

At my birth, I was in a state of ‘Not Knowing’ it seems. I was not aware or cognisant of what was transpiring in the moment or day-to-day; the ability to process information had not yet developed within me. Often, I have inquired with my parents about my birth and the first few years of my life. They were there, they are trustworthy (as far as I can tell), they know the story and they are still alive to share of it with me. I wonder if Jesus was ever curious about His birth-story?

I know that my dad wasn’t there for mine (that’s confirmed). I know that the doctor was in a dogsled race somewhere and arrived on-scene directly at-delivery and, that following my birth, we flew home in a plane steered by a drunk pilot (I have not had the chance to speak with the doctor and the pilot so, I’m taking my mom’s word on these accounts).

Knowing without being present requires some trust, as with history, in its entirety, I ‘suppose’. I mean, I love all the stories of history and how they can apply and relate to life today (we all could go on and on, citing all kinds of great stories). As I continue to learn, what seems to be a part of the story is the revelation of untrue or ‘cover-up’ stories (which include the intentionally ‘only partial’ stories) of history; the truth of a lie can be quite disturbing and uncomfortable to bear to begin with. One story that my dad has come clean on is that of a Shaman, from the Inuit village we lived in, who he said named me (Qovianqtuliaq, which in English is translated as ‘coming’). I still love to share this story like it’s true, though.

I know that my mom had tough time in the first years of my life from the stories that she has shared, ones laced with some traumatic inner struggle and sadness. Her experience of Post-Partum Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) led to my being oft-cared-for by an Inuit lady named Lissie who, as the story goes ‘loved me so much’ she couldn’t help herself but to bite my cheeks. For the Inuit family and culture, this was a sign of deep affection. Could this have been my first memory of love, the surprising pain of it? Awesome and, perplexing.

I have not always been curious about things I don’t know. Unfortunately, mostly for the fear of finding things out that that could unravel my comfort, I have chosen what has seemed safe to me. Renner and D’Souza have offered a book that ‘proposes a more fruitful relationship with not knowing’1. There is an opportunity in this book to learn about ‘letting go’ of the tension, being relieved of the competitive struggle and scramble to be ‘the one’ who knows. The authors refer to their inspiration of discomfort ‘in the unknown’ as reason for engaging with the subject; they engender hope in the reader that ‘at the edge of the known and the unknown there is a fertile place2.

Knowledge can inform wisdom

In his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis presents to the world loving perspective on many subjects that, for the opportunity of deception and illusion they provide for politics and greed, have left many stumbling in confusion. He writes, ‘True wisdom demands an encounter with reality. Today, however, everything can be created, disguised and altered. A direct encounter even with the fringes of reality can thus prove intolerable.’3 ‘Knowing’ from the encounter with reality that God offers on the margins and just beyond our boundary lands, I wonder if out there just beyond the intolerable fringes is where ‘it’ might be. We talk about ‘it’ (contemplate and meditate on ‘it’) from inside the circle. The Life we hear and read about, the one that ‘il Papa’ points to as well, could it be out there beyond those uncomfortable places and wastelands of broken hearts?

In the cheek bites of Lissie and love-bruises left behind, Big Life is speaking (if I’m willing to notice it) beyond the fringes of my knowing. I will not speak about it. Consider it in the picture if you have a minute for ‘seeing’.

“And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8:8, ESV).



  1. Renner, Diana and Steven D’Souza. Not Knowing: The Art of Turning Uncertainty into Opportunity.New York, New York: LID Publishing Limited, 2015, 19.
  2. Ibid, 19.
  3. Pope Francis (Holy Father). Encyclical Letter: Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship. October 3, 2020. http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html

About the Author

Chris Pollock

Dad of Molly Polly Pastor at the Mustard Seed Street Church Trail Runner

7 responses to “Lissie and Me”

  1. Darcy Hansen says:

    Reading your reflections, two things come to mind:
    1) I love when Jesus takes the shape of the most delightful of humans, as in your Lissie. Radiant, smitten with the little in her arms, eyes that say, “You are my beloved.” The goodness is beyond comprehension.
    2) It seems God works best along the margins, where not knowing prevails. This is where the poor, weary, brokenhearted, grieving, ill, and more reside. Jesus walks beside these people, sharing the “it”- good news, unconditional love, and hope- this is where true certainty resides through community and grace.

    Love is often shared through story, especially stories that connect us on very visceral levels. What story of love does your community tell and how have you seen hope emerge through that story?

    • Chris Pollock says:

      Thanks Darcy! So appreciate your thoughts on this.

      I think (maybe) it can be more confusing on the margins. I think, as well, that on the margins things are ‘closer to’. The ‘real’ is nearer. As we know and, as some of us experience firsthand, God is close to the broken-hearted. God is also ver close to the poor and oppressed.

      The stories that I observe in community that is close to the outskirts are much simpler and not diluted. Happiness is simpler. Acceptance, love and joy are easier and obvious and not coated. Connection can be so much easier (is what I’m finding).

      Thank you for the question! Looking forward to spending some time with your post a little later 🙂

  2. John McLarty says:

    Where else would “it” be than beyond the intolerable fringes, beyond the uncomfortable places? But we desperately want “it” to be much more accessible. Not that “it” is elusive, but “it” is not easy.

  3. Jer Swigart says:

    On the edges of the known and unknown is a fertile place. That is exactly what I’m trying to capture in my metaphor of the precipice and the opportunity for the Precipice Dweller. I wonder, Chris, as you read my post, do you see yourself as a Precipice Dweller or one who has already jumped into the great unknown?

    • Chris Pollock says:

      It’s an interesting journey. More and more, the story I find myself in is that of becoming less and less of anything.

      No precipice and, less of the unknown experience. At one point, I marvelled in the unknown.

      The journey seems to becoming less of that even. Just toward less is all…not ‘more unknown’.

  4. Greg Reich says:

    I find that it is often amidst the stories, those that are exaggerated, those that are untrue amidst those that are true that many of us come to a sense of reality. We often live in between a place of fondness of memory and our own woundedness. As parents we work within our own brokenness and the brokenness of our parents to love and raise our own kids. Life isn’t perfect but amidst the unknowing, the striving and chaos Jesus comes in bringing peace, wholeness and purpose.

  5. Shawn Cramer says:

    Thank you for a further glimpse into your story and into your background. You start the piece with the tension of love and pain, and then model that tension throughout.

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