Patience and the Padlock

Patience and the Padlock

Patience Joslin was a child who grew up in a Puritan home. Today we do not name our babies the way the Pilgrims and Puritans did. Patience, you see, was a very beautiful, but a very quaint name, too. And Patience Joslin had quaint ways of doing things, as, for instance, the time when she got the heavy iron padlock off the church door. It had taken several men to put the padlock on, because it was so big and heavy. But Patience got it off all by herself. And this was the way it happened.

Many, many years ago, sometime after the Pilgrims and the Puritans came in their boats to Massachusetts Bay Colony, their children, as they grew up, moved farther into the forest and built a town they called Leominster. They named it after an old town in the mother country of England. After a while, of course, they built a church of logs—a log-cabin church. And then, one day in the summer, when it was very dry, the log-cabin church caught fire and burned to the ground.

There were more people in the town now, and so they built a little white church in place of their old log-cabin church. The church was very small, but everyone expected that it would grow and that they could someday have a bigger church. But, for some strange reason, the church did not grow.

Many people in the town grew tired of going to church. They forgot to honor and worship God. They grew weary of giving money to keep the church doors open. Soon the church was too small and poor to have a pastor any longer, and, at last, there were only six members left in the congregation of the little church in Leominster.

One night the six people called a meeting to decide what they could do.

"Let us close the church doors and put a padlock on the door," said one man.

The other men said, "It is no use. We can't keep the church open any longer. We have no minister; we have no money, and people do not come. Yes, let's padlock the church."

When they took a vote, the five men voted to close the church and put a heavy padlock on the church door.

But the sixth person, Patience Joslin, stood up and pleaded, "No, no! You mustn't close the doors of the house of prayer. This is the house of God, and it must be kept open on the Sabbath Day."

But the men only looked at each other and said, "Who is she? She is only a woman in the town. We know what is best to do. Pay no attention to Patience Joslin." So they put a big padlock on the front of the church door and turned the heavy iron key, to let everyone know that the church was closed and would be used no more.

But they had not counted on the power of Patience Joslin, who loved the church, and who had faith that God would help her to keep open his house of prayer, even in this town where people had forgotten God. Each Sunday morning, all through the long winter, Patience Joslin knelt in prayer in the snow before the padlocked church door, asking God to help her open his church. Every prayer-meeting night she again knelt before the church door. As the people of the town passed by they saw her praying there.

Little by little, they began to feel ashamed of themselves to see this lone woman praying outside because she could not get into the church. Besides they missed the ringing of the church bell with its holy call, sounding on the crisp morning air. Some of them began to wish they could go to church once more and sing the hymns.

Week after week, Patience Joslin kept her vigil on her knees before the padlocked church door. When June came, and the daisies and buttercups swayed before the wind like a yellow sea in the meadows, the village folk called a meeting and voted to reopen the church. On the next Sabbath the people were so happy to be back in church again! They all gave money so they could have a pastor, and, soon, so many people came that they had to build still another new church to hold the crowds. Today this church has nearly a thousand members. Its doors are wide open nearly every day of the week, with happy voices coming from within, from boys and girls and men and women.

And, best of all, they have not forgotten the woman to whose prayers they owe this church—Patience Joslin. For, in the lobby of this house of worship, where all may see it who come and go, hangs the picture, painted by a famous New York artist, of Patience Joslin in her Puritan hat and simple dress, kneeling in the snow in front of the iron-padlocked door of the church. As the people see her picture of faith and prayer, they, too, resolve to love the house of God more dearly and to persevere in what they know to be right, just like Patience Joslin.

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