The Voice I Needed to Hear
Guideposts|September 2020
The Voice I Needed to Hear
As a widow and a farmer, I thought I was comfortable being on my own. The pandemic showed me otherwise
RAYLENE NICKEL

THREE WEEKS INTO THIS TIME OF social distancing and my emotions were melting down.

Around the world, people were sheltering to prevent the spread of Covid-19. You’d think someone like me, a veteran at being alone, would have no problem with isolation. Since my husband John’s death from cancer seven years ago, I’ve managed our 468-acre farm and cattle operation on the North Dakota prairie by myself. I’ve learned to live with solitude, silence.

Yet this forced separation from my neighbors, my community, and the cooperative farming arrangements that had taken me years to develop was stretching me to my limit. I was 67. Never had I felt so alone.

It was Maundy Thursday, four days before Easter. How I longed for John’s companionship, his hardy strength and clear-headed wisdom.

“Lord, please let me hear his voice!” I said out loud during my morning prayer time.

It was an unusually bold prayer. Ordinarily, I am content with God’s own ways of communicating. A sudden feeling of joy perhaps or a flash of insight amid silence. A memory of something John had said during the many long conversations we shared during our nearly 30-year marriage.

Was it presumptuous to ask for something more direct? It was Holy Week. If ever God might grant such a prayer, it was now.

My partnership with John had been close, and I had not expected to be alone at this stage of my life. We did not have children. The farm was our life’s work, and we worked in a prayerful rhythm, alternating solitude, togetherness, silence, and conversation throughout each day.

John was a steady, thoughtful man. He made decisions carefully, writing out plans and goals. He had a way of considering ideas from all sides to arrive at a balanced view.

I needed that balance now. The news was full of conflicting opinions about the severity of the pandemic, the importance of quarantine, the right governmental response. I knew my age put me at risk. But I had a farm to run, and I couldn’t do it without help from my neighbors. John would have known how to sort through the confusion.

Since John’s death, I had built up a small community of people I worked with or just visited over coffee. I could endure isolation because there was always human contact to look forward to.

Nothing is as comforting as a hug once in a while, and my two young friends Julia and Mirek were certainly great huggers! They owned Farmtastic Heritage Foods Hub, a farm to-table restaurant and catering business they had started in the nearby town of Anamoose. Julia and Mirek sold locally grown and prepared foods, including grass-fed beef from my farm.

articleRead

You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD

Log in, if you are already a subscriber

GoldLogo

Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories, newspapers and 5,000+ magazines

READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE

September 2020