Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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Who is Terrence in THE ICE WIDOW? Many have had deeply painful experiences at the hands of organized religion, and so I will tell you immediately that Terrence is a minister. If you do not wish to read further, I will honour and respect that.
If you wish to read further, I assure you that Terrence is not your typical minister. I initially cast him as a fussy, somewhat tedious scholar, but a good person – filled with love for his neighbour, operating street outreaches for troubled youth, and falling in love with the innocent Anna Caine. Terrence did not really grasp that Anna was instinctively seeking a safe refuge. He began as an awkward student with an open heart and a naiveté that could only end in a broken heart.
Terrence had seen himself as one whose faith embraced the universe, and he was humbled to discover that he could not accept Anna’s affair or the child of that affair. He decided that her son would be the child from the North that they adopted. Better yet, he could be raised by his father, in his own culture, a further hurt to the child’s mother.
Terrence brooded over the Book of Hosea after Anna’s departure. “Had he become Hosea, most inept husband in the whole Bible?”
He just glanced at the Book of Hosea in its scriptural meaning and was soon carried away in a highly personal speculation:
Hosea lived his life as a model of God’s relationship to his covenant people. Or so, Terrence considered, Hosea would have us believe. God told Hosea to marry a whore—this was a deliberate, calculated act. He also told him to take her back. That was supposed to represent God’s willingness to take his wayward people back. Hosea was not a fool. It was not bad judgment or naiveté that made him such a luckless husband. It was God’s will!
In Terrence’s final reflection, however, the pain of God’s commitment became real for him:
…. That was going to be their table, where she would smile and pass him his tea. Every day was supposed to start like that, but instead there was just a lonely fool, staring at the empty chairs through his tears. Just him, and his own personal wilderness.
“She doesn’t want me, God,” he sighed, “and now I am all alone.
“Is this how you feel, every time?”
In that moment, he recognized the loneliness and heartbreak of God.
This is the point at which I began to love Terrence, the man who grieved the crucifixion of our Lady of Shadowed Hope, Tonya, and saw Christ in communion with her, sprawled in the bloody snow by her body. This is the man who would embrace Anna on her quest into the North, the man who would recognize in his rival the presence of the risen Christ. Ultimately, Terrence would become the man who would accompany Joshua into his final journey:
He will be like the desert ancestors marching out of Egypt with nothing but the power of God to warm their hearts and fill their bellies.
Terrence would also recognize the worth and dignity of Sarah and perform heroic deeds.
When I started, I had no idea that Terrence was a great man.
Maybe I should look more closely at the people of my life, and see the blessing that is there, waiting to be discovered.