Decades ago, I read a pioneer story about a wife and mother on the lonely prairie, miles away from the closest neighbor. I think it was the novel, “Lantern in Her Hand” by Bess Streeter Aldrich, but I couldn’t find the exact scene today when I was searching, so maybe it was a different book.
The scene I recall was of the woman standing alone in the dark, looking across the waving prairie grass. She is homesick for family and craving the companionship of another woman who understands pioneer life. In the distance,she suddenly spies a lantern slowly moving back and forth. She realizes it is her neighbor, and she begins to wave her own lantern slowly.
Across all that loneliness, they connected. And, it was enough. The sight of that waving lantern was enough to carry her through many more hard days and dark nights.
I feel like we have been waving lanterns at one another for a while now. We are fortunate enough to do it through technology. We see faces and hear voices. What a miracle. What a blessing.
And yet, these are our own nights on the prarie. The lack of human touch. The void of daily interaction. The ache to hug distant loved ones. Those are real. And hard. And probably not going away anytime soon.
So, I log onto my computer, pull up my social media accounts, and wave my little lantern across the dark. Soon, other people start waving back. And I remember – I am not alone.