Fort Point Lighthouse, ME, courtesy Jeremy D'Entremont

Fort Point Lighthouse, ME, courtesy Jeremy D’Entremont

“Ernie, I’ll put up the flag this morning, since you have so much to do,” Polly said to her husband Ernie DeRaps, the lightkeeper at Fort Point Lighthouse.

“Thanks.” Ernie kissed her on the cheek before heading out.

Every morning Ernie started the day by raising the American flag and saluting it. Polly had participated, as well as, helped Ernie with the task.

However, she hadn’t realized the wind was so strong that cold morning when she volunteered to raise it by herself. She struggled to get the flag attached to the rope as a gusty wind wrapped the cloth around her. Finally, she succeeded in pulling the flag to the top, tied the rope around the cleat to secure it, and rushed inside to get out of the cold. The deed done, she didn’t look back as she began her chores.

There wasn’t any boat traffic that frosty winter day until later in the afternoon when she saw a small tanker make its way into the bay. About that time, the phone rang. Polly answered it and a gruff voice asked, “What’s your problem?”

“Why, there’s nothing wrong here,” Polly stated, confused about the question.

“Well, this is the Coast Guard base at Rockland, and you have a distress signal flying. We have a Coast Guard cutter and another boat headed your way, as well as a plane coming from Salem.” Polly’s face grew hot as the stern caller continued to list all the emergency vehicles coming to her rescue. What should she do? She and Ernie were very conscientious with the duties at the lighthouse. Was her husband in trouble?Distress flag

The caller paused and the phone went silent. Then the voice softened. “Polly, is the flag flying upside down? Go outside and check it. Now. You know that’s a sign of distress. By the way, nothing is on its way to your place. I was just kidding, but don’t let it happen again.”

Polly breathed a sigh of relief, then recognized the caller, a friend. Torn between being angry for scaring her and thankful he wasn’t serious, she hurried out to correct her mistake. From then on, no matter the weather, she made sure she looked up each time she put out the flag to make sure it was flying properly.

Sometimes we make mistakes in communication. We mean one thing while someone else understands another. Or we say something we wish we could take back. Like everything else in life, we will make mistakes. But when we do, we can try to fix them, apologize, or correct the error and hope our mistake will be forgiven.

Thank God, He forgives us when we’ve said or done the wrong thing and gives us another chance to get it right.


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” Ecc. 7:20

flag, right side up