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Children's Story Garden  >  The Silent Meeting

Girl standing in wild undergrowth, casting milkwood seeds to the breeze.

The Children's Story Garden

The Silent Meeting


MORE than a hundred years ago a little boy named Jacob was playing one day with some neighbor boys in one of the newly cleared fields of his father's farm. Pennsylvania was ft new country and largely forest land then, and Jacob spent long days helping his father, and his mother, too, chop down the trees to make room for fields. But at the end of the week he was given time to play with the other boys, and a merry time they had, making up games to amuse themselves, chasing rabbits, hunting chestnuts, and always finding something to do in the woods.

This afternoon Jacob and his friends had had long hours of fun together, and when the sun grew low in the West, the little neighbors started home for supper; As they went down the road they called back to him that to-morrow was First-day and they were going to meeting. "Come with us, Jake, will you?" they said.

Now Jacob had never been to a Friends' meeting, but he wanted to do what his playmates were doing, so he asked his father if he might go.

"Why do you want to go there?" asked his father. "They have no preacher, and there is no use in going where there is no preaching. But you may go; it will do you no harm, if you come home as soon as meeting is over."

The next morning Jacob woke early and travelled five or six miles barefooted through the wilderness to the little log meeting-house. When he reached it all the Friends were gathered, so he sat down behind the door. "They were all very quiet," he told his father afterwards. "I took very particular notice of them. There was no preaching; but oh! the good feeling that I had! It told me that the Heavenly Father's love reached out to children and to grown people everywhere."

When meeting was over he went all the way home feeling peaceful and joyous. "Well, Jacob," his father said, "how did you get along? Did you like the Quakers' meeting?"

"Yes, Father," Jacob answered, "it is true they have no preacher, but I felt so happy in my heart as I sat in the silence! I would like to go again."

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In The Children's Story Garden. Stories collected by a committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting — Anna Pettit Broomell, Emily Cooper Johnson, Elizabeth W. Collins, Alice Hall Paxson, Annie Hillborn, and Anna D. White. Illustrated by Katharine Richardson Wireman and Eugénie M. Wireman. Published in 1920 by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Notes and links

The Silent Meeting
A true story retold from Jane Johnson's "Early Impressions." Jacob Ritter later joined Friends' Meeting by convincement and became a prominent minister. (Historical Notes.)
Jacob Ritter
"Ritter was a fascinating individual, brought up a German speaking Lutheran yet attracted to Friends from early childhood, and given to experiencing visions, and one of the proteges of William Savery." - Peter Sippel in his page on 19th-century Hicksites in the Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology site, which also includes two selections by Ritter: This latter, from a sermon included in the Memoirs of Jacob Ritter (Joseph Foulke, ed. Philadelphia: T. E. Chapman & E. Weaver; New York: Baker & Crane. 1844.), sketches out the story above, and seems to be its original source.
See also:
"A Quaker at the Battle of Brandywine: Jacob Ritter and a Vision of Light"