“What Now?” by Anne Patchett

I fell in love with Anne Patchett’s writing after reading her book “Run” for a book club. “Patron Saint of Liars” and “Truth and Beauty” were the next two books I devoured.

“What Now?” is the fourth of her books I’ve read.  It is an essay based on her commencement address at Sarah Lawarence College. “What Now?” is a  small, beautiful book of advice to those just starting out and filled beautiful photographs.

Here are two quotes that spoke to me….

Maybe this is the moment you shift from seeing What now as one more thing to check off the list and start seeing it as two words worth living by.” (page 77)

As someone who loves to check off my list and then sit back and smile at the accomplishments, this is a new idea to consider. What would happen if I spent a little more time getting excited about what’s next? What if I spent more time enjoying the journey of doing instead of the just basking in the satisfaction of accomplishment?

And, “…there are some people who we grant the role of oracle in our lives and when they speak – rarely, gravely – we are well-advised to listen.” (page 90)

This made me stop and consider, “who is it that I listen to?” Who speaks into my life? Who are those people I respect so completely that when they speak, I listen? What amazed me is my answer. It’s family. My dad, my mom, my brothers, my sister, their spouses, many of whom have been like older siblings since I was just a child, my husband, my daughters.

I still have a special letter my sister, Barb, wrote to me way back when I was in high school. She was a mother of three small children. It’s chuck full of advice, even names of books to read.

Engrained in my heart are the words from a bookmark my sister-in-law, Felicia, gave me as a child. The bookmark is long gone. The advice, never far from my mind. Joy is Jesus first, others second, and you last.

I also have a letter from a Godly man, D.W. Lacy. He wrote it for my wedding. Now that I’ve been married for 18 years, I see just how wise his words were. (I’ll leave that for another post.)

My mom’s advice came through song. She was always singing while cleaning the house and it was usually, “In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of love.” Or it was, “There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin-sick soul.”

I am so thankful for those “oracles” in my life.

Who are yours?


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