Viewing: Spiritual Legacy - View all posts

The Lincoln 

The Lincoln

    In 2005 my parents bought their first new car ever - A Lincoln Signature Town Car. That fall, when they flew out to visit me, Mom was so excited to tell me all about it. As I recall, the story goes like this.
     After sixty two years of marriage and buying only used cars they decided it was high time to treat themselves to something brand new, and off they went to a local dealer.  Mom spied  a pretty spiffy Buick, Dad made the deal, and they headed to the bank so Dad could get cash to pay for it. 
    However, as they were re-entering the car lot,  Mom saw a baby blue Lincoln she hadn’t noticed before and wanted to take a look. She said that as soon as she opened the door, she was sure the Lincoln was the car for her, and when she sat in the driver’s seat, it was confirmed. The powder blue, leather seats were soft as butter and smelled wonderful. The adjust able brake and gas pedals were perfect for a 5'2" lady. It was solid, the doors closed with authority, and she felt so safe driving it, even on the Interstates. 
    “Just so you know, I left it to you in my will. But, don’t tell your brother, you know he will start shit over it.”  My mom was every inch a lady, and so she knew just exactly how and when to cuss - irregularly enough so that it startles folks and they pay attention to what you say. 
    My response was, “Okay.” So I didn’t. I never told anyone in or out of my family and, actually forgot about it right away, never giving it another thought. Until...
    The October of 2013 my father passed away at 90 years old. I loaded up and drove to Ohio for the funeral and my daughters flew out to meet me there. My eldest and I were just today talking about Dad’s funeral, and how it seemed so surreal, something out of a movie even. It was raining and dismal all day. The Scottish Rite gave a service. As the bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” and “Going Home”, their call rattled our bones and broke our hearts even further.  
    That night, back at Mom and Dad’s house, we girls, being my daughters, my two sisters, my nieces and their daughters, and my sister-in-law, were all up in Mom’s room “tucking her in.” Mom asked me to go get my guitar and sing “Inseparable From My Heart” for her. I did, but really struggled through. My girls rescued me by asking for some silly songs, then in between tunes, Mom looked right at me and said, “You still want the Lincoln, don’t you.” It was not a question, but nonetheless I startled. First, I hadn’t thought about it since 2005, and second, no one was supposed to know about it. Instantly she realized what she had done and said, “Well, I guess I let that cat out of the bag, didn’t I ?”  I looked around the room and saw that everyone was looking at me with a “Whaaat?” expression. Everyone except my brother’s wife,  who was looking quite upset. 
    Let’s say that my parents had an estate plan because it was and is a smart thing in regard to protecting any real assets one might have. Also, let’s say that, if one person were going to get everything in my parent’s estate, that “one person” would not be even close to retiring. There was not that kind of money in their estate. And, so, I didn’t think about it at all after that night. Not one whit. But, the “trouble” Mom spoke of started before I left the house to come home, followed me all the way to Arizona, and stayed quite a while. 
    Someday, I may tell that entire story. Maybe, maybe not. For now, I will say it was quite traumatic, in that my brother, in his infinite executor power trip, declared me a danger to my mother and I was not allowed in the house or to see her again before she died. But, in the spring, Mom followed Dad home, and that fall, when I flew to Ohio to pick up the Lincoln, it had merely 22K miles on the odometer. It was an interesting trip to say the least. I got to visit with my eldest sister, and together we sorted through what entitlements that had been put into storage for me.  Afterwards, I swung down through Tennessee to see another sister there, cut through Nashville where I wrote  “Cold Night In Nashville,” and then on through Oklahoma where I wrote the words to “A Crazy Horse.”

    I was very pleased and blessed to have the Lincoln given me as a gift. Why Mom chose me, I can only guess and would probably be wrong. Mom did what she wanted and got  what she wanted. The winter of 2012-2013, they came to spend a few months here in Arizona, and Dad often told me he had planned his whole life that he was going to die first, and “this is the one thing your mother is not going to get her way on.”

    As soon as I got home and registered the car in Arizona, I tried to get a specialty plate that said THXMOM, but then and the ten years since, that plate has been unavailable. I have many, many good reasons to say “Thanks, Mom,” and November 4th, 2023 is the goodest reason.
    I was heading to the gym late morning on that day, when I was broadsided by someone who ran a stop sign. I was hit primarily on the driver’s side B pillar and rear passenger door. It was a pretty hard smack, and I didn’t see it coming until the grill of the other car was in my left lower peripheral vision the moment before impact. I did not hit the brake but took my foot off the gas, passing on through the intersection and looking up in my review mirror for the other car. I watched it pass through the intersection and so turned around to follow. Yep, they were trying to get away, but the impact  had damaged the front end of their compact car badly enough they were literally hopping down the road, finally pulling over. I pulled in behind and called 911 who sent Fire and Police. They both arrived before I hung up with dispatch. 
    It took two Firemen to get the driver’s side doors open, having to open the rear door first. I was told I did right by not exiting the Lincoln on the passenger side because of the type of impact. But, as soon as the doors were open, one Fireman gave me his hand to help me out and, before he let go, he pointed to the car and told me, “This car saved your life.” I told him my Mom left me the car when she passed away. 
    The Rescue medics checked me out and afterward I was leaning on the Lincoln, waiting for my turn with the Police. The Fireman came back to me and said he knew I was very upset about my car, that his sister-in-law had inherited a Lincoln from her mother. That Lincoln had tiny Looney Tunes characters dancing all along the side like pin-striping because her whole family was into Looney Tunes. He knew that car meant the world to her. 
    I told him that I always wanted to get a plate that said, “Thanks, Mom.”
           “This car saved your life,” he told me again. 
           “Thanks, Mom. It’s not the first time you saved my bacon, that’s for certain.” Mom gave me the Lincoln for a reason she never revealed. Maybe it was a Mom’s intuition.  And, she always got her way. Well, nearly always, huh Dad?
    After a couple of months of trying to find ways to keep my Lincoln, I have had to accept that the insurance companies are in control. I understand. The cost of repair is more than 40% of the value. In this case, even with under 80K miles on it, because of the age of the car, the estimates for cost of repair are as much as 105% of the value. I can’t do that. 
    But, Thanks Mom. Your love and generosity paid off in boatloads. I’ll see you later rather than sooner.

© Nancy Elliott & Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing 2024
Phone 520.705.5901

Lightning Woman Danced, the story behind the song 

Lightning Woman Danced, The Story Behind the Song

    “I have always gone to the wilderness,” or some version of that, is a line you will read often in my stories. The wilderness shows up constantly in my songs and poetry, almost without fail. It is the place where I have always gone to rest, to discover and to regain my footing. In my early years I developed an ability to take a place with me where ever I may go: I see the place, hear it, smell it, feel the sun or the wind or snow of it, I can step into its waters and cool my feet. 

    Some have asked me if the wilderness is where I found God. My answer is, “No”. God found me not in the wilderness of the world, but in the wilderness of my soul, and He has never let go and promised He never will. However, God does talk to me through the wilderness places I go. And, perhaps when I am not listening to Him elsewhere, he sends me out to where I will listen. 
    My father died in the fall of 2013 and a few months afterward, in the spring of 2014 my mother followed him. The trouble started shortly after Dad died though, when my brother introduced his executor duties to his best friends, greed and cruelty, and the four of them mounted an offensive against me. Shortly after Dad’s funeral, I was pronounced a danger to my Mom and was not allowed to see her and even my phone calls were screened. I was stunned to say the least and could not begin to understand the reasoning behind this edict.
    I hired an attorney to fight for me to be able to see Mom and this only escalated the situation. In the end the attorney did no good for my cause and Mom died without me getting to see her or visit her in her last days. Because a friend of fifty plus years was one of her caretakers, I was able to speak to Mom on the times my friend could notify me that the coast was clear to call. It was this friend who notified me the night of my Mom’s passing. Other wise I was not notified by family for several days. 
    To say the least, it was a horrible position to be in. To have one’s will paralyzed with no regard for the truth.

     Spring became summer and then fall. My equilibrium was still off, but the concerts, getting to sing for people helped to carry me through. Yet, the fight continued, now over the estate. 
    Way back in 2004 my parents bought their first new car and that winter flew to Arizona to visit me for Christmas. While here, Mom informed me that the brand new 2004 baby blue Lincoln Town Car with the leather interior would be mine when she died. It was already in her will that way. “But, don’t tell your brother,” I distinctly recall saying. “It will only start shit.” I promptly forgot about the car. Little did Mom know just how much shit the Lincoln would start. 
    In 2015 I was tired, exhausted from the estate battle and unsure if I could do a good show, but, I had concerts to play that had been on the book for a couple of years. I had also  scheduled a short two week tour of house concerts from Arizona to Washington State and back during August of that year. I could hear Mom saying, “Go on and go, get away from the mess.”
So, I did. 
    As I headed north out of Arizona via Flagstaff and on to Lee’s Ferry, a storm was looming over the Vermilion Cliffs. I made my ritual stop at Cameron Trading Post to visit with the Weaver see what she had working on her loom. Later, as I approached the turn off to Lee’s Ferry, I noticed that cars not far ahead of me were disappearing into the storm, so I pulled over to wait it out. Even the Navajo traders set up along the highway were packing their goods and getting in their trucks for protection from the driving wind and rain. 
    After the storm passed I took the turn for Lee’s Ferry and Kanab, Utah, a road I had traveled before and was familiar with. The fact that I may not see another car for many miles did not bother me. The Vermilion Cliffs were a favorite place of mine and they were made more beautiful by the remnants of the storm which hung about their tops. All of a sudden, ahead and to my right, a bolt of lightning came from the sky, touched the edge of the cliff and stepped down to the ground. It took another step toward the road then jumped into the sky. 
    The scene was too startling to be scary. I was now looking in the mirror hoping to see another car and thinking they would have had to see what I just saw. But, I was the only one on the road. A minute later the lightning ran past me on the right, as if we were racing. It was take huge, giant steps and leaps that had to be a quarter of a mile or more in stride but were sideways to the right and then the left. I began to laugh. Lightning Woman was dancing. She was going across the road and back again, leaping into the sky then turning back to jab her feet into the ground.
 “Oh, Lightning Woman danced down off the mesa. 
   She danced jabbing toe and heel into the ground. 
   She danced across the road and on the playa.
   She danced into the air and came back down.”

    By the time I made my motel in Kanab I had those words and more. Words about how Lightning Woman was sent to tell me I was doing the right thing, that I was on the right road and to stay with the map printed on my soul. 
    My first show was the next night, and I was excited to see some friends whom I knew cowboyed in Brice Canyon and the Kaibab Plateau for many years. 
    I asked Jeanne, “Have you ever seen such a thing?”    
    “Only once, and I have never forgotten it.”
    “Good, then I know I have not gone nuts!”

    Stay on your right road.  Follow that map printed on your soul. Answer to the wilderness when it speaks to you. God works in the wilderness and He has a purpose for sending you there. 
Step toward the light away from fear and hear all those angles up in heaven stand and cheer.     


The Old White Shirt 



    Weekly, someone tells me, “ I have this shirt ( jacket, pants, dress ),” They laugh and shake their head. “ I know it’s ridiculous, but I really love it. It’s frayed at the cuff (full of holes, too small, too big, not much left of it). I can’t part with it. Why is that?” 
    I laugh with them. I have some of those, too. In particular, a white shirt I bought in 1984. It’s frayed at the cuff, has a big tear in the back, it is so thin you can read the newspaper through it, and I can’t part with it.
           Believe me, I have tried. Every few years I put it in the basket headed for The Home of Hope, only to pull it out at the last minute. One time, I dug it out after carrying the basket inside. Crazy. The girls there pretended not to notice, surely they see it all the time. 
    Every once in a while I wear it. Has to be some place special though. 
    A single mom raising two little girls on a bartender’s wages in 1980's Texas, I was not in the habit of wandering in to expensive department stores just to look around.  I made our clothes, with few exceptions. I spent money on good shoes , however. 
     When my oldest girl was trying to walk at barely eight months old, my mom bought her a pair of  Buster Brown Oxfords. The minute I laced them up Shannon got to her feet and walked across the room. Thirty Dollars was a lot of money to spend in 1980 on a pair of shoes for a toddler who might not wear them for more than a few weeks, but I was an instant believer. Later, when I was working long hours, some times seven days a week on my feet, good shoes were vital to staying in the game. In 1983, I bought a pair of Acme boots on Lay- Away from Leddy Bros Rope and Saddle Company for Three Hundred Dollars. I walked a lot of miles behind the bar in those boots, and rode more. They were re-soled twice in five years, re-heeled once. They have a place of honor in the living room beside my old saddle, but I wear them now and then, even though they no longer keep the water out. And, my granddaughter wears them.
    Back to 1984. I was looking for shoes for my two little girls when I saw the shirt in Dillard’s and stopped to look at it. It was on the sale rack, marked down to Sixty Dollars.  White cotton, loose fitting with one pocket, delicate embroidery on the collar and cuffs. So pretty. I walked away and we went shoe shopping. Passing it on the way out and I looked again, and we left. I didn’t find any shoes for the girls either, but the clerk told me about a sale coming up for the fall and we went back later.  We found shoes that time, and on the way out, I saw the shirt still on the sale rack. It was marked down again to a more doable price and I bought it. 
            The girls and I didn’t go out much other than to a cafeteria they loved, or fishing, to the park, or to the horses. I never wore it behind the bar as it would have been ruined in one shift.  But, over the years, the shirt was a staple of my wardrobe. I wore it dancing, to sing at weddings, and once, at the funeral for friend’s toddler grandson who was murdered. I have never been able to sing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” again after that. 
    The white shirt was my go-to blouse for Church and picnics. When I was called upon to teach a class, go to a meeting, attend an awards ceremony for my girls, the white shirt was the one to wear with jeans, or a skirt. Eventually, the cuffs frayed. I got smaller and had to take it up. Every once in a while it would disappear into the depths of my closet only to re-emerge, months or a years later, as though I got a new shirt!  In the year 2001, while I was tucking it in, my finger went through the fabric. One of those tears that will not be repaired in a presentable manner.  Oh, no! Well, when it’s tucked in, you can’t see it. So I wore it, anyway. 
    Then, the cuffs frayed more, separating at the edge-fold. The embroidery began to come loose. My pretty white shirt became the occasional lounging shirt, something on my shoulders for a cool evening on the porch. One day, it turned up in my closet again and I realized the fabric had thinned to the perfect weight for riding horseback in the summer; my shirt was back in full time use for a few years. It went horse packing to the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming, the Crook Trail, and  Woodchute north of Prescott, into the Bradshaw Mountains and East, all along the Moggollon Rim. Many of my family milestones, daily living, mountain adventures, evening campfires and lyrics to songs are woven into the white shirt.
    It is written into the book “Autumn’s On Its Way.”
    The white shirt hangs in the closet where I can see it. Some day, I may wear it again.  Maybe to my next performance. After all these years, and as worn and frayed as it is, it deserves a real special occasion. 
    So, when a Seamstress Of The Desert visitor asks, “Why is that?”  
    I tell them it is the stories, fun, tears and laughter and memories, that are woven in, and through, like threads of life. That is why. 

La Jinete  

   I wrote "La Jinete" about 2005 in an attempt to describe my kindred-ship to this Sonoran Desert and her inhabitants. Far more than merely a place to build a house with a view, the desert is a living thing who moves into your dwelling and your soul, without permission. One can not live here and be oblivious to her omnipresence. She demands attention and, if not given, she will spit you out. Or worse. 

   La Jinete is an unfinished work I pick away at as the years pass. There is so much to impart, it may never be all said. 


La Jinete

I've been out here since I can remember, since time began it seems 

It's the place where my soul finds comfort, here where only God can intervene 

Life in the desert trims up your soul, for she's exacting, precise and honest 

Lie to her or your own heart, she'll  leave you dead. That's a promise. 

Don't recall when I came here, for I'm a part of this desert landscape 

She's blended me in with the quartz and the sand, for me there is no escape 

As wild as the wind in the monsoon, soft as the coos of a  babe 

Her breath is my life and my solace, her songbirds my hearts serenade 

She keeps me here enchanted with the gifts she leaves at my door 

She showed me my place in a story, a magical piece of lore 

Of spirits unfettered, unconquered, of fierce, unshakeable hearts 

Courage, mettle and nerve, and a souls' unbreachable ramparts    

I'll tell you that story if you'll hear it. It will take a measure of time  

And, you have to hold on tight, for the ride's is over ground that's unkind 

But, perhaps you'll understand then, why this place holds my soul and my heart 

Just why I stay out here in the desert, in my story, to you I'll  impart  


Pale blue mists weave and prowl through the pleats of the mesa's skirt 

No animals stir, no morning birds sing in my disturbingly silent desert 

Then, gently at first, moving up thru the earth... a barely perceptible tremble 

Now, stronger, then louder, it soon overwhelms with a pounding, ear filling rumble 

My curious eyes scan the horizon for the source of this frightful rampage  

Then, they're on me, flinging hot breath and foam as they burst thru the silver sage 

They snort and squeal at the sudden stop, bumping, rearing, teeth bared 

But, they dare not run past their mistress, who's astride the blood bay mare 

The wind lifts her hair as she smiles,  and I am breathless to realize 

How can it be?  She is I,  I am her!  Those lucid green orbs are mine eyes! 

She looks in my face as her horse dances there, her face so calm and serene 

And she peers in my soul with a knowing so old, discerning, carving and keen 

Then, a leather gloved hand sweeps from her cloak to the obedient herd in her wake 

She nods at me and signals a mare who moves forward for me to take, 

I rise and drift through the glorious herd of horses this bold woman leads 

She watches me, knowing my heart,  that her very command I will heed. 

I swing aboard a freckled grey back and grasp a handful of mane, 

We move out on the breeze of a winters dawn ore a rugged and ancient terrain 

My heart is bursting with wonder, like a child I'm carefree and wide eyed    

My soul is awakened,  my spirit alive as we gallop along side by side  

Flying thru sage and cactus, bearing south we gather more speed 

Then turn east to the Chiricahuas, a most humbling land indeed 


(C) Nancy Elliott Music and Sonoran Desert Sage Pub 2005

All rights reserved, no use or copies of any kind without permission. 


Being Fully Present Matters 

            My time on earth is precious to me - as is yours - and it becomes more precious with each passing day. Whilst I am still here, there is no place I would rather be than with others who are like minded in this respect; those who choose to be more than merely physically present, and who make the decision to be spiritually, emotionally and mentally present in life whether alone or with others.  
    I will never accept that not giving another human one’s complete attention is merely “the times” and “a new way of communicating and sharing,” and that I need to get with those times. From what I see, “the times” and “a new way of communicating sharing” leave not only me feeling disrespected, set aside, alone and left out, but also many other folks. The younger folks are feeling this, even if they cannot name it. That feeling of aloneness, separateness, and being disrespected creates hard edges on people, especially young people. They get tough, indifferent to others (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em) and angry at a world of people who are not treating them right. Today’s 20 and under group was raised in these disrespectful, spiritually barren times, sometimes by emotionally and mentally disengaged parents - often I have seen a child who can not yet walk given an electronic device to entertain itself with. The 20 and unders may not even know what real respect is, or understand the need for face to face, eye to eye conversation and so, they suffer from the lack of what they cannot name or define. They suffer from malnutrition of the soul brought on by human connection deficiency.  It has a real name: Failure To Thrive. 
            And, it is not only the younger generation who suffer. Adult onset failure to thrive is just as real and perhaps more deadly. Speaking from personal experience, when conversation is instantly interrupted by the ding, and people who I am conversing with choose to immediately answer a text message or check how many likes they have acquired on social media, I feel as though my very presence is of such low value that I can be put “on hold” and I fight an overwhelming urge to leave the room.  I say with certainty that an “emergency” text is extremely rare. Is it more disrespectful to delay answering a text - or looking to see who it is - than to disengage with a person who is present in order to respond to someone who is not present, effectively giving the non present person and what they have to “say” more value?  Once, while out for dinner with friends and having what we thought was great conversation, one person backed their chair away from the table and began to engage with their phone. They purposefully and effectively chose to leave the group, but felt as though they still had the right to remark on half heard discussion. That behavior is rude and disrespectful and hurtful.  
    There are so many necessary factors in life which keep us from spending time with our friends and loved ones. Don’t let factors you can control keep you from being fully engaged when in their presence. Time flys so fast, is gone forever and cannot be recovered. I wonder, if after the loss of a loved one or a friendship, how many people regret not paying attention, regret not being fully present, regret being on social media in the presence of or while on the phone with others and not really hearing or properly responding to the last words spoken to them. If the "conversation" took place in person, is there regret for not looking into the eyes, not seeing the facial expressions of the person speaking to them?  Do they wonder what they missed? Do they wonder if the other person noticed their distraction, their obvious preference and deliberate choice, to be mentally elsewhere rather than present? I will answer that, yes, they noticed.  
      I hope that you always choose to be fully present, with every fiber of your being on task. Each moment you choose not to be fully present is a waste of precious time - mine and yours. I promise to make every endeavor to never waste your time.