The Flagman

flagger ahead sign - image by OlinEJ from Pixabay

Eight hours a day the flagman stands outside my apartment as construction trucks begin work on a new building down the cul-de-sac. Few cars pass, but he must stand there all day.

It’s monotonous work, I judge, and I wonder about his life. After several trips not acknowledging him when I leave my parking garage, I pause and say, “Hello,” through my window. “How ya doin’ out here?” I ask.

He responds with enthusiasm despite expressing weariness as his workday nears its close. He’s going to a prayer and worship event tonight, and he hopes his friends will save him a seat. “I hope I can stay awake,” he admits. Ah! He is a believer. I say I believe God will meet him there. Now he knows, too, that we both are in Jesus’ family. We discuss some of our favorite Christian rock artists. The 30-something flagman chats freely and happily, and I smile, but I’m absorbed with where I’m rushing to be. When I return from the store, the workers have all gone home.

On Monday at 6:45 a.m., I glance out my window during prayer and notice the flagman arriving early for his 7 a.m. shift. He drags a sign down the road to alert cars that he will be up the road, telling them to slow down or stop. How responsible he is! I regret judging that his is not the best job.

I decide to pray for the boss walking past. He barely looks at the flagger who greets him kindly. I pray for the safety of all the arriving workers. The flagman holds his sign.

Jesus stands outside my window with the message, “Loretta, slow down.” And sometimes he tells me to stop. Consider. Pay attention. Notice.

Jesus wears a hard hat and neon vest. His back is to me, but he is there, a sentinel to focus my busy list.

My windows are open to collect the morning coolness. I turn the sound bar of our widescreen TV to the opening and blast out Christian music. I watch as the flagman turns. I smile and wave from my second-story window. He tentatively lifts a hand.

I go to the balcony and say, “Hello.” “I wondered if you were waving at me,” he says. “I just said to a coworker that I wish I could play some Christian music, but I didn’t think it would be professional.”

His remark catches me off-guard. I didn’t expect such care from a flagger. How seriously he does his job, and with pride! Of course he does. He is Jesus, standing outside my window. What he does is very important. I made assumptions about his career and mine.

As far as we know, Jesus lived an unremarkable life in Nazareth for 30 years. What did he do of value in that time? Maybe he was a flagman for carpenters and construction workers in his neighborhood.

In the flagman I see Jesus, who held up the sign of the cross with his body.

Image by OlinEJ from Pixabay.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Thanks Loretta. Flaggers are important part of our eco-system. On football fields the linesman raises his flag signaling infringement. At train crossings, or at air strips, the flagman waves green or red depending on the situation. May all flaggers be blessed with patience and stamina as they carry out their service to humanity.

    • Thank you for deepening this metaphor, Dr. C C.
      God sometimes waves me down to point out an infringement. I need to seek the graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
      May I be a person of encouragement, waving the green flag for others to GO! Onward and upward!

  2. All the comments before mine, reflect my admiration for your writing here, striking in its simplicity of thought.

    I am reminded of a talk given by Orlando, my youngest son, senior pastor of Christ Church, Southampton, which he founded on the campus. In the talk, he spoke of the ‘pieces that fit Jesus’ – simple words again, but ones that resonate with what you have written.

    Thank you for moving me so deeply, Loretta.

  3. I loved this reflection. It reminds me that the workers I pass on the streets every day are not different from me. We share dreams and hopes, sorrows and struggles, hope for our lives and faith.

  4. I love this reflection, Loretta!
    Thanks for this important/resonating reminder of noticing – and connecting with – Jesus in others.

  5. Thank you Loretta for that beautiful story of The Flagman. Now I know what it means to see God in everything, though I am still trying to understand “seeing everything in God”. You have turned the simple job of a flagman into something so profound. Thank you once again Loretta.

  6. Thank you for this thought provoking, uplifting passage. How often I have missed Jesus because I didn’t take the time to look and see, to listen and hear. He is in all things. I ask for the grace to recognize him.

  7. I really enjoyed this writing. Made me think about all the people I pass and If I acknowledge them? One could be Jesus and I walk on by….I need to really look!

  8. Loretta, this article will stay with me for a long, long time. Thank you for finding God in everything and everyone and everywhere!
    Blessings on your path.

  9. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading the flagman.
    I thiught of it as a meaning for my life to slow down. Give praise and thanks to Our Lord .🙏🏻


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