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Nancy Elliott 

A Life lived in the Desert SouthWest


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The Great Awakening

Posted by Nancy Elliott on September 29, 2020 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (1)



I can’t remember not believing in Christ.

In other words, I believed so long ago, the belief was embedded in me and gradually guided and formed the adult person I am. I am not for one second believing or trying to impress to anyone that I have arrived. But,looking back over the course of my life I am convinced with every fiber of my being that, had I not believed at so young an age, I would be mentally ill or even dead. Excepting my father, I am the only member of my family who did not have a breakdown or attempt suicide. I am still here. Always learning and, I hope, growing in Grace.

For most of my life I did not understand what the principles of Christianity were. The church I gew up in was a church of the usual fare of sermons that told us to be good, be kind, love our neighbor and we will be just fine. By the time my family arrived at McCrory’s 5 & 10 for root beer floats on the way home, those sermons were forgotten.

As I grew older I had many questions about God, Christ and the Trinity. I wanted to know just how to apply all this Bible stuff to my life. I looked this way to Rumi, that way to Native American beliefs and wondered if I could blend them in together. But, one thing I knew for certain was when my life fell apart, when my dreams crashed, again and again, when there was so much pain I was on the floor in a puddle and could not breathe, when I was so frightened and worried that I could not see past the end of my nose and even my nose was a blur, the one thing which was always there was the image of Christ’s hand reaching through the mess to pull me out. Christ’s hand, no one else’s.

In my early 50's I was finally introduced to a teacher who could answer my questions and provide application of Biblical principle for life on earth. Here is what I learned in the first few lessons.

Christ died for this sins of the world, believer and unbeliever alike. Every sin imaginable and unimaginable, from eternity past to eternity future. Christ’s death on the cross removed sin as a factor in whether a person spends eternity with Christ or not. There is no one sin greater than any other sin. Sin is sin. The only unforgivable sin is unbelief.

My spiritual life is between Christ and me. Your spiritual life is between Christ and you. It is the rare human who has the knowledge and capacity to determine the spiritual maturity or quality of any other person’s spiritual life. Therefore, “let he who knows no sin cast the first stone.” That does not mean you and I cannot have discussions, uplift and edify one another. In fact, we are called to do so. But, it is way out of line to say a person is not a Christian because of something they are doing or not doing.

As a kid and even into my adult years I never quite understood exactly what I was supposed to be doing as a Christian. To my surprise, I learned it had little to do with “serving” as the Church today would have us do. Preaching on street corners is not for everyone. Setting goals for so many converts sounds like a job in sales, not my bailiwick. Instead, it had everything to do with “growing in the Grace and knowledge of Christ” by reading, studying and applying Biblical principle to my life. My life. Not your life, or the President’s life or the preacher’s life or my neighbor’s life. My life. As I learned and re-learned this principle, my Christian life became more apparent to me, and, by Christ's promise, to others.

There are those Christians who are called to serve in the street. Those who are called to go into the prisons and the brothels and the hell holes of this Earth. They are empowered for that work, not everyone is. If you are not empowered for this work and you go in there, you will get burned down.

For several years I went into the prisons to sing, tell stories and recite poetry with the plan to bring hope and joy to the prisoners. I sang for the general population. I sang for segregation, which can be a lot like door to door caroling. I sang for the U.S. Marshall’s population, both men and women. I sang a lot of Gospeland just plain songs, told stories from my life, and recited poetry both happy and sad.  I did not preach. I made friends and received much correspondence, which greatly impacted me, but prison rules said that I was not allowed to respond. Yet, I was the blessed one.

During this time I was approached to be part of a traveling prison ministry trio. I am sure these folks asked me because I was already working in the prisons and they believed I had insight on how to minister in that environment and that I be their “in” factor at other facilities around the U.S. Maybe so on both points. When I discovered that they would be preaching to the prisoners and that I was expected to preach also, I told them the following.

I had been singing in the prison facilities for three years or so. It always took longer to get checked in to the facility than it took to play the concert, and then it’s the same lengthy process to get checked out. The prisoners counted on my showing up, they needed me to show up. They needed me to go through that process of the drive to get there, the waiting to get in, being processed in, setting up the equipment, the performance, the visit time, tearing down and processing out and the drive home. Every time, every single time, I came away with a new understanding of Christ and His work on the cross. Much of this understanding I can’t even articulate, much less teach to some one else.  I was not then, nor am I now, equipped to preach to people who have all the time in the world to study the Word of God and reflect on its application to their lives. I will not stand before that crowd and espouse that I know so much so well that I can tell them how to go forward with their lives. All I could do was give them a piece of my heart, to show them love and caring and hope and Grace. I was then, and still am, awed by their Biblical wisdom. Oh, that there should be such outside those walls, that understanding with every fiber that there is only one unforgivable sin, the sin of unbelief. That traveling ministry passed on having me join them. That was okay be me. I was shaken slightly by the nasty way I was told they were passing on my participation(remember, they apporached me, I did not ask to be part of their work), but I realized that My prison ministry was not about me doing good in the prison, it was about me growing in Grace. Their ministry was about something else. 

Tell me, why was I “sent” to the prisons? I had asked questions of the Teacher. I wanted to know, and was sent to a place where I would learn the next lesson on the syllabus created especially for my Christian walk. I still want to know, and this path of learning is not an easy one. There are many bumps and pitfalls and hazards at every turn. As I keep walking, I am ever and always learning to navigate by my Grace Compass. Grace for you and Grace for me. Grace from Christ. 

Nancy

#SouthwesternAmericana #itsasouthwestlife #GreatAwakening #GraceonGrace #DownADirtRoad #NancyElliottMusic #Sonorandesertsage

Grace on Grace

Posted by Nancy Elliott on August 27, 2020 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I don’t hate. I don’t hate any person or thing. Well, I take that back. I hate shredded coconut, hate it so much that the thought of it makes me gag. Hate it in or on anything in any manner. Coconut might as well be a giant hairball in my mouth. That is pretty funny, but, really, to hate anything requires a measure of ungracefulness.

I do, however, get concerned when I hear Christians say “so and so should be doing thus and such or they are not a Christian.”

“Let he who knows no sin cast the first stone.” is my response.

It hurts me when I hear a Christian calling out another believer for the perceived sins of their past. Who assigned you that job? And, did you forget what God has done for you?

Did you forget about “as far as the East is from the West, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”? ( Psalm 103:12)

“He casts all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Mic 7:18-19)

“....For You cast all my sins behind Your back.” ( Isaiah 38: 17)

Wait! There’s more! A whole lot more. But, I will let you can find them if you are interested. If so, find them and post them here. It will be a fun and edifying treasure hunt, a superb distraction from the world.

A Christian, by definition, is any person who believes in Christ. That is it, en todo, finished. There are no hoops to jump through, no “believe and also do”, no now you have to do this or be this, or act this way or dress this way. Anything other than belief is outside the Gospel of Grace. To have expectations for our fellow man to do anything other than believe, or to become something we think they should become, or behave how we think they should behave, sets us outside the Gospel of Grace and all its operational principles. Grace does its own work, in its own manner and in its own time. Let’s not forget, that as Christians, our one and only purpose for being on Earth is to grow in the knowledge and Grace of Christ. Letting Grace do its work on our own selves is how the rest of the world learns about Grace and its transformative power. One believer’s ungracefulness can discourage untold numbers from Christ. It’s called “lopping off ears.” A believer’s ungracefulness also hurts and discourages other believers. Ouch.

If we are not acting or speaking from Grace, what we do or say has no wisdom, or bearing. Zip. Grace does not teach us to respond from emotion, it teaches us to respond in Grace. To respond in Grace we must recall God’s grace in our lives, a most humbling experience.


 

 

Uncle Rick

Posted by Nancy Elliott on July 24, 2020 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)

       In 2006 a friend brought me a shoe box overflowing with letters. They were letters home from a much admired Uncle she did not remember getting to meet. Her family said she had met Rick, but she didn’t remember because he was sent to war when she was still a toddler and, he did not come home. She only knew him from his letters home and family stories.

       It was a huge affair when a letter came from Rick. The family and neighbors alike would gather and listen as one person read aloud. Then, Rick’s letter was passed around to all so they could read it for themselves. Rick’s letters were always about, and in this order, his horses, asking about family, girlfriends and friends and going on about the dances they would all attend when he got back from the war. He would write about running into so-and-so from the next town or ranch while he was on this island or that base. He wrote about new friends made while on his tour of duty, and how much they were all looking forward to hugging their families, kissing the girls and getting back to the home fires. He always wrote that it would be soon, real soon, they would see him coming over the fields, galloping home a’horseback one of his Mustangs.

      My friend asked if I would pull some of her Uncle Rick’s story out of the letters, and write some poems to help her tell his story to her grandchildren.

Here are two of the poems which manifested from the letter box.


 

Uncle Rick

 

Uncle Rick was just a boy in his teens

in the Great Depression, a life far too lean.

So, with only a compass, a canteen and his horse

He left his poor family with great remorse.

 

While working cattle and breaking colts

some outlaw studs and a few plain dolts,

He met a wise rancher who saw he had mettle

and made Rick a cowboy of finest fettle.

 

The blood of the horse flooded Rick’s veins,

directing his life like the seasons change.

With an iron hand in a velvet glove

he'd break wild mustangs, his first true love

 

To this type of work Rick’s kind spirit was bent

and while training the ponies, his soul was content.

His whole reason for living was riding his horses

yet, when duty called, he joined the Armed Forces.

 

From the confines of war's regimens

Rick wrote of his horses to family and friends.

Dreaming on paper of times yet to be,

once more with his ponies, he longed to ride free.

 

But, battle cares not for a young man's dreams.

And, even honor and glory with fate do convene.

So, during the war we fought with Japan

Rick never came home from the land of Saipan.

 

We still read his letters and talk of his tricks,

how he made fine horses & chased those mavericks.

Mostly we think of the great man that he was.

For man is made up of the things that he does.

 

Rick was a man of strength and resolve.

Just why he is gone, we won't try to solve.

We'll just picture him on his wild mustangs,

a-whooping with joy and riding the plains.

 

(( “Uncle Rick” by Nancy Elliott 2006 Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing))




 

 

Stand for the Flag

 

They ride for the brand and they ride for the flag

They're not afraid to ride point, nor too proud to ride drag

They've ridden in sun, wind, snow and rain

They ride through hells canyons with no disdain

 

There's a life they love and refuse to surrender

Brave young soldiers all the world should remember

They hail from our mountains, valleys and towns

They ride for you, now, on the worlds battle grounds

 

They're fearless, undaunted, not just any mans' sons

They're fighting for you, The Fortunate Ones

They follow the colors and heed the call

With American spirit and gut where-with-all

 

They've fought for you since before you were born

For hundreds of years they've vowed and sworn

To fight for your children and grandchildren too

Till the Lord himself comes, they will follow it through

 

These freedoms we have were hard won with the blood

Of our brothers and daughters in the gore and the mud

And those stars on our flag are a sign for all man

That oppression and fear are not part of the plan

 

Now a soldier takes personal every star, every stripe

'cause he's charged hells gates for your freedoms, your life!

Stand tall, lift your hat, whoop a warrior's cry

Put your hand on your heart when our flag goes by.

 

((“Stand for the Flag” by Nancy Elliott 2006 Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing))


 

If you would like to use this story or the poems, just give me credit. It’s the courteous thing to do.

Nancy Elliott

Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller, Seamstress, Dreamer

NancyElliottMusic@Gmail.com

520.705.5901

www.nancyelliottmusic.com

Firm Footing on Wobbly Ground

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 29, 2020 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (3)

It seems there is an even heavier push to blend in with the crowd than when I was growing up. To look a certain way, to have a certain body type and if you don’t, you just do not belong. To have this job, or own this house, to be popular. To be THIS is the ultimate! No! Wait! Be THIS. Do THIS. Think THIS. No, Wait! Do THIS! Think THIS or You Do Not Belong! You Must Belong, Be Labeled, Categorized, Catalogued and Filed. Be black and grey, or black or grey but you cannot be red or yellow or blue, because that is not black and grey. Social Media would have you to believe otherwise. Take a second look, even a third if you must. But, take a long, hard, deep look. Then, tell me what you find among all the posed selfies which took hours to create {you can even take lessons on selfies...}, pouty lips, deliberately antagonizing posts about ecology or politics. What are we teacihing our children?

Now, in these Covid-19 days, when you have your children at your elbow and knee constantly ( at least, I hope you do ) what are you telling them about their worth, their value? Are you telling them to do whatever makes them feel good? I hope not. Are you teaching them solid guidelines for living or flimsy, meme guided thought processes?

This is a wobbly world. How does a person find solid footing? I am no child rearing expert, but, having once been one and having raised a couple on my own, I have learned a thing or two. The most important lesson I learned is practiced daily; Providing children a solid foundation for thriving means giving them solid, black and white rules to grow by but, it does not mean that they must conform to black and white modes of living. Solid strutcure let's kids reach out in many directions to learn and explore while having safe footing to return to. Solid foundation means, among other things, rules, respectful speech and behavior in the home and away from home and on social media. It means standing your own ground on what might be hard topics like; no piercings, no tattoos, no R movies, grounded is grounded, you get the picture. It also means stepping back and allowing room for the child to explore its own soul. Soul is real, Soul is living, and it must be cared for and fed properly. That means there is structure needed for soul growth, a method to an end.

There is a whole lotta talk these days about sex education in school and what is and what is not the right thing to do. If there is Spirit and Soul education in schools, other than in Christian Schools, and I am not so sure about what they are teaching, I have not heard anything about it. What I do hear is the squishy "whatevers" that media and the world tell children.  

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her book “Mother Night, Learning to See in the Dark”, describes the story of “The ErlKonig”, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. She tells of an evil elf whose sole desire is to capture and kill those children whose spirits and souls are filled with creativity, with beautiful differences which set them apart from the rest of the world and can bless the world. She tells of parents and communities who unwittingly give their children over to death of the creative soul, the lively spirit. Children are taught, inculcated and brain washed with a false doctrine called “Fitting In”. In a parent’s own blind and desperate yearning to fit in, to belong and be accepted, their children suffer and “die”.

 

Here is Edgar Alfred Bowring’s translation of The ErlKonig

 

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?

The father it is, with his infant so dear;

He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,

He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

 

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"

"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!

Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"

"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

 

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!

For many a game I will play there with thee;

On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,

My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

 

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear

The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"

"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;

'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

 

 

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?

My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care;

My daughters by night their glad festival keep,

They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

 

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,

How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?"

"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,

'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

 

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!

And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."

"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,

For sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

 

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,

He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;

He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread, –

The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.

 

 

 

No matter what life you choose, there will be a price to pay. There is a price to pay for living a creative, expressive life. Usually, you are described as “different”, in a kind way. Perhaps you are labeled as a loner, a private person who tends to keep one’s self. And, the price of not belonging can an exorbitant one, if you let it be. I choose to live a creative life. I chose to let my daughters grow expressively and creatively. I hope I taught them how to take their bumps for being different, for not belonging. I hope I taught them a few skills for thinking, living, creating, for being and living differently. Skills for not letting the bland and general world-thinking invade and take root, potentially destroying a life of fulfilling their God given creative joys and spiritual gifts.

I hope I taught them this; You are probably not going to be applauded and internationally recognized for being different unless you make a stink. Then, you are busy about making a stink and not busy about being your self.

We all have choices regarding how we live and the right to our viewpoint. While I am not ignorant to the harsh realities of the world, I choose to look for good all around me. It is a daily choice, sometimes moment to moment. People, the world, the place I live, the landscape of my life is what I choose to make of it. I choose to see good, to see beautiful, to see harmony and the positive side of everything possible. I choose to eschew thoughts and actions hurtful to my life. Oh, like any one else, I have “those” moments where I get taken in, side tracked, ambushed and tricked. Usually because I am not paying attention. But, I try not to tarry long in dark places. I tend not to linger in the company of people who are not solid in their desire for growth in heart, spirit and soul.

Creating a world you can live in, thrive in, a world which belongs to you individually is not for the faint of heart. It means accepting one’s differencess and not being fearful of not being accepted, or popular, or understood. 

My world is solid and expansive. It is stable and ever growing. It is full of light and color and, by my own choice, what shadow and darkness manage to get in become tools for further growth, more creating. I have to learn and grow. I must learn and grow spiritually and creatively or I suffer, I am unsettled, fidgety, disconnected, adrift.

Even so, in the midst of suffering is sometimes where learning and growing takes place, where blessing can be found in abundance. You have to know what you are looking for, it is there. Every day I learn, again, how to take a stand for myself. It is not a battle or a struggle. It is growth. It is.”Ah ha!, Now I see!”

So many have never been shown their choices. They believe it is just the way life is because they have not experienced anything else. They do not see their real worth to the whole and that real worth comes in their individuality and their joy of discovering it. I believe that is why so many people of all ages are adrift, lost in a blended and faded land of All The Same. They join in any where they will be accepted, not thinking about if they really want to be in that place physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. They have been taught that to be applauded is acceptance and they need to be applauded. They join in the hollering of “Diversity!”, “Individuality!” from every street corner yet, they holler as a group, a gang, a legion. They are very busy yelling. Be quietly different. In quiet difference you bless the world.

#neverblendin #itsasouthwestlife #katyscache #theheartofitall #music #sonorandesertsage #bethedifference #quietlydifferent

 

© 4/29/2020 Nancy Elliott ASCAP Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing

 

Angles of Light and The Wind

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 23, 2020 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (2)

    "What Are You Thinking?" he asked.

 

    Angles of light, color, hue an depth. A shadow, thin as spider’s silk, hangs over the orange of mallow petal, barely seen, maybe only percieved, but part of the texture and tapestry before me. Entrancing to distraction.

    While on a second date, desert picnic during a long, languishing Sonoran Spring, my companion, now my sweetheart, asked me, “What are you thinking?”

    I was not thinking, not at all. My eyes were slowly moving over the desert floor, seeking every shadow, curve, stick, flower, leaf and movement. The “Hot Shots” were packing up after extinguishing a wildland blaze, thankfully less than a few acres. This added even more interesting and arresting shades and smells. And feeling. All of those colors, light, shadow and smells effect my feelings, stopping the usual thinking process and I go to a sensory place I have no name for. Explain all that on a second date. “I am just taking it all in,” was my response. An understatmement of huge porportion. I cannot explain this to my self, how would I explain it to someone else? Bob still asks me, “What are you thinking?” Sometimes, I can answer fully because of the trust we have established. But, sometimes, I am caught without words. Like, one evening when we were dancing to a band playing outdoors. The establishment was in a rustic setting, dance floor was behind the band and away from people and tables, and over Bob’s shoulder and through the trees I could see the night sky, the pond and the stars. I could hear the night birds and crickets and my eyes started to seach the details of the shadows and light. All of that, along with dancing in Bob’s embrace, left me without an answer.

 

    And then, there is silence.

    The songs of silence are welcome to my ears, to my soul. One can’t hear the songs for all the noise of the world. But, the songs are all around and tell me the world is Okay. From the porch I hear the groan and squeek of the soup pot on the stove. The tin roof pops as the sun heats it, and then rattles a shiver as a stray cloud cools it. The breeze drifts orange and purple blooms and makes mallow and lupine nod gracefully to the rhythm of pop, rattle, shiver and squeak. Cassia floats sweet perfume on the wind while butterflies work diligently.

    There is birdsong, too. Laughing, whistling, cat calling, cheering, playful and alive. The local Harris Hawk family is hunting. Today there are five of them and their conversation is like encrypted surround sound.

    I know places where the quiet is so thick, the footfalls of ants seem an intrusion. Not here, not today. There is silence enough for today. A restful, not alone silence. A peaceful, beauty filled silence after months of busy and hurry.

    I am ever thankful to live in this place. From my back porch I can see Pima Butte, The Sierra Estrella Wilderness, South Mountain, Four Peaks, The Superstitions and McDowells. I can see Signal Peak and the Sawtooths, Newman, Picacho, The Catalinas and Lemmon.

    The wind speaks to me when the world is quiet. Or, rather, when I am quiet I hear the wind speaking.

     I recall the wind in the treehouse in Arkansas. I would climb out and up onto the tin roof to hear the wind in the forest that covered the surrounding hills. I remember the screaming wind of a California grass fire as I worked my way to safety with a bladder pack and shovel. The peaceful hush of the wind as I repaired targets on the archery range. The roar of the set-your-watch-by-it 3pm dust devil on the gun range.

     And now, I’ve had to fetch a coffee and a blanket, in spite of my fleece pants, thermal shirt and sweater, because I don’t want to go inside and miss any little thing out here on the porch, in the silence and the wind.

Shaken Forward and Shaken Free

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 15, 2020 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (2)

It's the topic of discussion around the world. The sneak attack by a lethal, invisible monster who slammed our lives into the dashboard, broke and bloodied our noses, erased our warm fuzzy feelings of safety and security and kills indiscriminately. This thing which has forced us to take cover, spend time alone, a lot of time alone, and discover what matters most in life. This "beast" which has forced us to look at our selves and our lives as never before. 

I quickly became overwhelmed by what So-And-So is or is not doing. Or, President Trump said, "thus-and-so" and isn't that just awful. How we are being lied to, manipulated.  I could hear more of new discovery of the deeper side of self and others. 

    "How the Lord takes by its corners this old world and shakes us forward and shakes us free. To run wild with the hope. To run wild with the hope. That this thirst will not last long, that it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain. And, I feel the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain. And I hear the prairies calling out your name." ( Rich Mullins~ Calling Out Your Name ).

        In any time of testing and trial, it is easy to succumb to pointing fingers and blaming. I hope, instead you will help your self and the world by asking "What am I doing?", "What am I thinking?", "How may I comfort someone else?" "Have I removed the plank from my own eye before I seek to remove the speck from someone else's eye?"

       So, I hope you spend this time seeking out the heart and soul of those you love, those you think you know all about.  I am no expert. And, after someone once remarked to me that "an expert is a former drip under pressure", maybe I don't want to be an expert on anything. That said, here is the "go to" instilled in me by my parents and reinforced by life. 

      Be quiet. Listen to the clatter in your own mind and shake out the bullshit. When was the last time you really heard the crap and lies you tell your own soul?

      This world has supposed itself to be so busy and important it does not "have the time". Now, it does have the time. Listen to others, don't pre-suppose what they will say. There are people out there who have not had anyone listen to them for so long they have forgotten how to talk out loud, let them ramble till they find the path, you have the time. Whether you are listening to the news, a friend or family member, you have the time, right now, to listen and to think before you respond. Set a new 5 second rule for your self; you have to wait 5 seconds before responding. Maybe, you will find you do not have to respond with anything more than a touch or a smile. This former Police Dispatcher can assure you, 5 seconds of silence can feel like an eternity, so make sure others know you are not ignoring them, that you have set this new rule for your self. 

    Be present, wholly and totally present. In this modern life of record and pause buttons, social media posts and newcasts, like cockroaches, will forever be with us. Like yourself, the person next to you is but a vapor, and will not always be available. Cherish the now. Even now. Inspite of now.If the world should end in the meantime, wouldn't you rather be holding the ones you love close in your heart? Wouldn't you rather their faces are the last you see, their voices the last you hear?

      I would love to hear how you have been shaken forward and shaken free. 

The Voice In The Desert

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 8, 2020 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (2)





The Voice in the Desert

 

Searching through the desert, there is something I must find

I know You are out there, I hear You calling all the time

With a voice as sweet as fillaree, dancing in the desert wind

Drifting from each rocky slope,sandy wash and bend

 

I chose to ride a crooked trail, of which You know the scope

Shameless acts, wasted time, shattered dreams and hopes

Yet still, Your voice is filled with peace, alluring, ever there

Singing to this broken heart a vow of love and care

 

I met You once when I was young, then just turned and rode away

to live a life I thought was grand, and promptly, went astray

Now, my back trail, it still beckons me and probably always will

But, I think if I keep riding, I'll find You round that next hill

 

As I dismount to watch the sunset, all the desert has gone still

Not a whisper of the wind, not a click, or peep, or trill

Then, the sun explodes atop the mesa and I dare not even breathe

Light sweeps across the desert floor and pools around my feet

 

Saguaros stand like soldiers of God, halos of light through their spines

Swashbucklers of Glory, steadfast, protecting, arms stretched out in mime

Each rock and leaf is set ablaze, and the silence pounds in my ears

My soul is drenched in the beauty and wonder that thrives in this world so severe

 

With the hilltops a fire, the canyons in shadow, the day snaps off like a lamp

My blood still rushing, mind over run, I mount and head back to camp

I hear your voice, I feel you out there, but one thing remains a fact

I've ridden for years cutting for sign of those promises made way back

 

That gun toting preacher, he told me himself, and preachers never lie

That You'd never leave me and You'd always love me, and be there to help me get by

I've had some bad rides, a scrape or two, times with my back to the wall

Yeah, I survived, but can't help but ask, just where were You through it all?

 

Reflecting on the wrecks I've been in and the tragedies life has brought

Decisions I made, trails I chose, the glory in life I sought

I'd laid down a pattern of endless mistakes that only compounded my plight

"Poor, pitiful me, all the world is against me" yet, still maintaining I'm right!

 

But, You never left me, You never forsook me. You rode out front the whole time.

That's why I heard Your whispering voice, and now it's ringing like a chime!

You came down here and lived among us so we could see that You're for real

And now, it's about learning Your lead, and never about how I feel

 

All these years I've been fighting my own head, doing things my own way

It's a shame I was too dang stubborn to see how things should really play

It's tough to admit, but I realize now, I just didn't want to understand

That in spite of it all, I'm alive and well, 'cause You let me ride in the palm of Your hand

 

Copyright Nancy Elliott Music & Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing September 27th 2006

Time Flys

Posted by Nancy Elliott on February 23, 2019 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Journal

February 23, 2019

      Has it really been September since I last made an entry?

      There is so much to catch up on.

      Tall Tree kept me very busy for the last few months and I am not sure things have slowed down much at all yet. The mailing out to DJ’s has begun and also seeking out new Radio Stations out side of where I had been sending music for the last ten years or so. I am sending out to stations with more Folk inclinations and less of the Cowboy/Western side of things. I hope that makes a difference in how well received my album is, that Tall Tree falls into the right hands to get this music out to the hearts who are waiting and listening for this music. I do not have the words to express how pleased I am with this record, with the artists who contributed their skill, how blessed that Ismael heard that something in my music that made him want to work with me to create the South~Western Americana sound. But, I gush, and gushing is not very becoming.

      I have made mild threats over the last couple of years to leave social media. I find many of the posts in my news feed, especially on Facebook, are merely re-posts of something found to be clever, or profound but essentially are quite empty. They are the personal opinion of someone who, while they have every right to their opinion and their feelings, has fallen prey to the false idea driven by social media that one should say everything one thinks.

      There is another good lot of posts that are deliberately antagonistic, and people cannot seem to see through this as a means of bringing attention to self. It is one thing to poke good natured fun at a person or situation, it is another to make an effort to hurt. I have come to believe that social media is at the top of the list of social engineering groups and no, not one of us is exempt from being engineered no matter how well you think you have it all figured out. My perception is that everyone thinks they are wearing sunglasses and, therefore, will not be caught staring. That as long as the screen is between the typist and the world permission is given to disregard civil interaction and there is no need for respect of another person, their station or even their feelings. That mis-belief has transferred to human interaction off the screen. But, the cold, harsh, sarcastic way of speaking began to be presented to us as humor thirty years ago with Television. I did not watch shows like “Friends” and the new “Saturday Night Live” then for the same reason I do not appreciate biting sarcasm now. The only good thing I have discovered by witnessing this behavior on social media is that it clues me in about the apparent cruel side of people who I interact with personally, face to face. Quite an eye opener. Startling and off-putting. I do not want to see it or be part of it or “understand” it. Delete, you say. Un-follow, you instruct. Well, that takes time and energy I do not have or want to waste.

      Here is that threat, again. Maybe you will see me here and there, maybe in fits and starts, but find me less directly on social media and more indirectly by posting there through the music website. I am not afraid of missing out, I’m just fine with being left out.

      Maybe, you will miss me and come looking for me. I’ll be just over here, busy with this living, you all are welcome to join me.


Love,

Nancy

Tall Tree

Posted by Nancy Elliott on September 4, 2018 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

September 4, 2018

It is not easy to create an album. But then, it is.

 

Songwriting, essay writing, writing poetry and writing my Spiritual Legacy is something I must do. I must to write to sort out my world. I have to be honest on the page, true to my self, or you the listener, the reader, will see right through the whole mess.

 

Some times the hard part is going back over what I wrote because I am not sure I want to let you in "there", but I know I have to. Most of the time, the hard part is putting pen to paper, and through that first writing, the editing and the writing again, that chiseling out process, I learn about me.

 

I hope through this, my process of writing, that you will learn about you, also. I hope to always leave room for a story to be your story, that I never clutter it up with so much stuff there is not a place for you, a gift for you. That is important because, although I would still have to write songs and stories, I could never stop writing even if you were not there to listen or read, ultimately the gift is for you.

 

When I first started writing songs I heard music beyond my guitar. I am not a schooled musician, but, I manage to get my point across with the music and have made efforts to grow and improve over the years in order to express my self more clearly and speak to you better. I have always hoped for an opportunity to have the musical compositions and arrangements of my songs be fulfilled as I hear them when I play them. I hear specific instruments, voices in harmony in particular places. Traditional instruments in traditional places in songs is not what I hear when writing or performing.

 

Some of the instruments on Tall Tree are what you might expect to hear, but not in "that place" in a song. Some of the instruments are ones you may have never heard of, or never thought of being played in this type of music. There are voices singing and speaking which are not what you might expect. I am thrilled and excited to surprise you! I am thrilled and excited to have a producer and engineer who is not a traditional thinker, who is creative and adventurous, who will take a risk with a "let's see what happens".

 

I created the South~Western Americana because while I can and do play Cowboy Music, I am not a Cowboy and have never claimed to be. While I can and do play Western, I am not a Western performer in the true sense of the word and have never claimed to be. Understanding one does not have to be a particular thing to write about it, neither were a good fit for where I believe my writing falls, which is nowhere in between and fairly far outside of those two genres, yet close enough I sometimes get invited to perform both genres of festival. They bill me as they want me billed. But, other venues want to know, "What kind of music do you play? How do we put you in the program?" Folk music was not quite the answer either. South~Western Americana is a combination of the terms I have heard often enough when audiences and followers attempt to describe what they are hearing. So, there you go.

 

Yesterday, I spent the day in studio with June Murphy, who is singing back up and harmony vocals for four songs on Tall Tree. I met June while attending a church in Mesa. June is the choir at Barrah Ministries. I invited her to go with me down to the Arizona Folklore Preserve and listen to Jon Messenger. She was very excited to go since she was new to the area and lost as far as where to go for music. It was a drive, but worth it all the way there and back as we learned about each other. When we got to the APF and the concert began, June could not contain herself and was humming harmonies softly under her breath on songs she had never heard before. Jon pinpointed her right away and smiled. When he sang Cohen's "Hallelujah", that was it, June broke out and Jon kissed her cheek, saying she could sing with him any time any where. You will hear June signing on Desert Motel(Tyson/McIntyre), A Horseman's Hands (Elliott/MacDougall), A Breath of Spring (Nancy Elliott) and My First Love (Nancy Elliott). Well, we spent the prior evening together working on the vocals while working on pizza and homemade spaghetti. So, when we got to Mi Casa, we had a good idea of where and what June was going to sing, though not how she would sing it. Ismael took her strong and sometimes unbridled signature voice in hand and the result is masterful. Bravado, an out and out cry, a sweet, sweet invitation, just some of the colors of June Murphy. Painting the songs on your heart.

 

Blessings, Nancy

Tall Tree

Posted by Nancy Elliott on August 20, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

August 20, 2018 Monday 

I write to explore. To learn who I am today, right now, who I am becoming and what my world is made of. To stay in my journey and find my direction in my journey, I have to write. I write to understand an experience, to lay it out on the paper, all blood, bones and guts, stir it around, re-arrange it again and see if it goes back together. And if it does, are they any extra parts leftover and what does that mean? I write to pare my mind down to the reality of the mystery, the next step, the next stop. I write with faith (faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen) that the writing is part of my journey, the map of my journey and a compass by which I am guided. 

Mostly,I write for me. Because of all of the above and because of things I cannot explain but hope to, one day. Hope, here, is hope that is knowing without a doubt. Not a sickly, weak hope of "well, I hope so..." which has no hope at all and is just something to say. 

But, do I write for you? No. I don't aim a word or a line or a song at any one person or group. If I write for you, we would both be disappointed because I would worry if you liked my writing or not and you would feel compelled to like or "like' my writing. Worst of all, that kind of writing feels mendacious to you and me. That kind of writing, worrying if you will "get it" or not, if you will understand my meaning, appreciate my twist of words and rhyme is not how I write. Letters are written to someone. Letters are where you make sure the other person knows what you mean. 

Part of my writing journey is reading, a lot of reading. Reading other's works helps you find your own words, gives you new thoughts to process from, angles you have never considered. I have often said that if it were not for Libraries I would be broke and have no room in my house. I do keep a collection of favorite books, though. Even when I worked in the parks and spent time living in a small tent, I kept a shelf of books. It was actually a wooden crate turned on its side with the books on the lower shelf and my lantern and such on the top shelf. A book I have always had a copy of is "A Sorrow In Our Heart, The Life of Tecumseh" by Allen W. Eckert. "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George is another, although I think it is with the one of the grand kids right now. That kinda worries me some. Both books read as though they were the author's exploration of their own curiosity. And that's what makes them exquisite. Who was this man, Tecumseh? Did he really love Rebecca Galloway? How far west did he travel with his predictions of a total eclipse and an earthquake that would change the course of a mighty river? What would happen if a boy lived in a tree with a Goshawk for a best friend and yearned to discover the land of his grandfather? How would he survive? How would he eat? Dare he make any friends ?

 

It was a rainy, foggy November morning and I was driving from Marysville, Tn. to Nashville on the back roads. I took a left off the highway onto River Fork Road, a winding country two lane that ran beside a river. Under the canopy of an Oak that had refused to give up its leaves for the winter, I thought someone was standing there in the mist. As I passed I looked back, but I had made a curve and the tree and its lingerer were out of sight. I started writing Cold Night In Nashville right there on the road.

 

 

 

"It was raining when he saw her down on River Fork Road, he pulled over said, "get in, you're looking wet and cold."

 

A duffel and guitar, she tossed in the back seat then she jumped into the front and took her wet sock off her feet.

 

He turned the heater up and they drove for several miles 'for she ever spoke a word, then, she turned to him and smiled.

 

'Thank you, it was a cold, cold night in Nashville. I left early in the morning, and if you hadn't stopped, I might still be standing there, I might have missed my rendezvous, I might have missed it'" ~ from A Cold Night in Nashville, Nancy Elliott 2014

 

 

 

While I will tell or hint at what inspired a song, I often tell a story indirectly related to or, having nothing at all to do with the song which follows it. I am always loath to say a song is about this or that, because I do not want to cause the listener to have a predisposed ear. The misty figure beneath a tree on a Tennessee two lane looks like you want her to look and the "songs he never sang" are, you fill in the blank. I believe that is story to song.

 

"Write what you know" seems as superficial at "don't tell them, show them". While I understand the concepts behind both statements, I find them both lacking in depth and inspiration. And, in my own search for how to explain being painfully honest on the page, writing from your life experiences, being willing to zip open your soul and let all the world look, I am probably doing no better than anyone else. So, I will lead you to a story. A story is always the best way.

 

"I Can Only Imagine", written by Bart Millard of the band Mercy Me, is a 3x platinum song. It is multi platinum for one reason only, it grabbed people by the souls of their hearts and never let go. The movie made about the song is by far the best example I know of story to song. " Imagine" was at the theater last March for a short run and I missed it, but found the DVD at Target. Put it in your library and keep it, watch it often and when you get over it, then you can watch it for the lesson in writing anything.

 

 

 

Back in the studio tomorrow.

 

Blessings,

 

Nancy


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