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Elizabeth dreamed of slipping away for a short retreat so she could get to know who she was beyond her routines, relationships, and responsibilities. Then she dared to do it. She couldn’t know her desire for solitude would be cracked open by a mysterious muse, two young lads, and a most unusual friend. In a journey of the unexpected, this unlikely heroine is reunited with her personal spirit.

A heartfelt adventure and delightful guide, this novel opens the door for every reader to embrace and explore their own personal spirit.

Time Slipping takes you to the place you’ve always wanted to go: to the quiet place inside you that knows exactly who you are, what you want, and how to find the courage to go for it.” ~MF

Signed with Personal Message at Spirals
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Chapter 24

Elizabeth held her teacup close to her lips, soothed by the warmth from the earthenware. Watching Old Maggie nibble a cookie and share it with a one-eyed, orange cat that had jumped onto her aproned-lap seemed to help.

“There is no need to wordify about your condition. I have seen it often, and it takes no more than a good cup of chatter-broth and a couple of cookies to set it right.

“Feel the good air about you. Think of the sun shining on your adventure, imagine flowers sending their fragrant encouragement, and Emily here purring upon the moment,” her hostess crooned.

“Remember your feet upon that good, clean floor beneath the table. With nothing more than a flight of fancy, you can send roots out of the bottom of your slippers to attach you to the strength of earth and soil. You are as solid the table before you, the cup in your hand,” the woman across the table assured Elizabeth.

The voice deepened. The following words were wrapped in silk. “Like the grass outside my door, you are reaching for growth. Feel that and you will slip into this time with Old Maggie.”

Elizabeth was not sure she could feel roots growing out of her feet, but she did feel the solid wood planks beneath her slippers. Composure moved up her legs. It spread through her body until she could speak.

“I feel rather like a child who has found a treasure in the attic and knows not what to do.”

“Of course you do. It is not often you find yourself sitting across the table from an old crone and her cat,” laughed Old Maggie.

Her laughter held such raspy truth; Elizabeth could do nothing, but nod and smile in agreement. Shifting in her chair, the countess was fighting an impression of the world being flat… and she was sailing off the edge. She looked for words as though they were the rudder.

“I feel the rightness of seeking your company, but that does not mean I know why I am here.”

“You are here for this moment,” the older woman answered without hesitation.

Old Maggie leaned over her cat, offering Emily another bite of lemon cookie. Time expanded. She captured Elizabeth’s attention with her serenity, pulling her guest to safety with her confidence as well as her voice.

“I had known it would happen somewhen, and, rising out of bed at sunrise, I felt the air sparkle. I knew you were on your way. That is why I thought to get the floor mopped.”

The crone smiled. “A chore that would have completed except that snoutfair Harry came by with some peas and strawberries, and our conversation took us away.”

“It is easy to talk with him,” Elizabeth concurred.

The countess smiled when Old Maggie looked at her with a certain knowing, and then qualified her statement. “Or, maybe I should say, he seems more pleasing as I quit expecting him to respond in ways I’ve become accustomed. I own I was rather resistant to his company when I first arrived.”

“Yes, but when we do not listen to our spirit, it will always, sooner than later, give us another push,” the crone said.

Elizabeth nodded though she had no idea what that meant.

“I find this certainty a constant delight in the day-and-day world. First we trip. Then we stumble. Without fail, when we do not respond to the whispers from within, we fall down. But, of course, the lads need your presence as much as serendipity was part of the path for you and Harry.”

Old Maggie picked the cat off her lap and leaned over to set her on the floor before asking, “Do you want more hot water before we begin?”

“Yes. Please.”

Elizabeth instinctively asked for the familiar.

“Good. Heat up my leaves at the same time, would you?”

Pouring water gave the countess a bit of respite. Thinking about roots growing out of the bottom of her slippers brought a smile. The comfort of another cookie helped her look directly at Old Maggie to see where this day was taking her. Though the crone glowed like a candle sitting on a window sill in a storm, Elizabeth was not sure she would find shelter.

Old Maggie began in the middle.

“You will only make yourself ramfeezled if you persist in avoiding the wonder we hold within ourselves. Community, home, and family are a part of our journey. They demand we look outward. The appearance of gray hair marks the beginning of our transition, when we are invited to travel inward.”

Old Maggie’s voice washed over Elizabeth as she continued listening to the crone.

“Gentle graying announces the changes when body, mind, and spirit make their shift, and your sixth sense comes forward to guide your days. With each new gray hair, the voice of your intuition becomes louder. The whispers become insistent. These make the path quite clear for those who dare to listen.

“Our intuition guides. It brings those who are uncertain into the company of those who have learned to heed their inner voice. This instinct lights the path leading each woman to her spirit realm. It opens one’s eyes to a destination of purpose and creativity.

“Intuition is our knight in white, shining armor, there to help us claim our kingdom in the bold time of life.”

Elizabeth reached through all the wisdom she was hearing and took a deep breath as she grabbed the first thing that came to mind. “How will I find my kingdom, if I do not know it by appearance or location?”

Old Maggie did not move or even blink as she said, “Your journey is creating your kingdom.”

Neither woman hurried past this moment. The hands on the clock paused to listen.

“The real question is whether you will choose to travel inward to your personal truth or continue your outer journey. The inner landscape is explored with spirit, guided by feelings. The outer world defined by what you already know.”

Sitting in the silence that followed, Elizabeth felt herself standing at a fork on a road. To the left, she saw fetes and fashion. There were successes and status. To the right was a place of no time where intimacy was encouraged, creativity celebrated, and spirit growth possible. With no doubts, she stepped to the right.

“Oh dear,” she muttered upon realizing the journey ahead. “I do not know if I packed all I need to travel down this road.”

Old Maggie laughed. Shaking her head, she chuckled. Then she reached up and pulled a white hair from beneath her scarf.

While Elizabeth watched, the older woman got out of her chair and moved to a sideboard on the wall opposite the large fireplace. She opened the third drawer down, and rummaged around until she harrumphed with satisfaction. Returning to the table, Old Maggie put the long, curly strand of hair into a small, flat leather pouch.

Elizabeth could see complete satisfaction written across her hostess’s face like a well-loved poem.

“Now we only need one of your gray hairs,” Old Maggie announced.

“There are a few taking root right here,” the countess said as she removed her bonnet and placed her fingers near her right temple.

“So there is,” Old Maggie agreed, stepping closer to pluck a single strand as though it were an everyday occurrence to harvest gray hairs during tea.

“These, growing on the right-hand side, tell me your heart yearns to know what is beyond the fences,” she said as she added another curling, gray hair to the pouch.

Old Maggie handed it to Elizabeth. “Take this with you. It is a medicine bundle. These strands will empower the next part of your journey. You are, indeed, ready. The gray hairs of your life experience have given you the knowledge necessary to travel forward. In your heart, you know what makes you special and what you have to share. Your sixth sense is in place to guide you.”

Elizabeth clutched the pouch in her left hand as she retraced her steps back to Widow Marshall’s cottage. She had much to consider, but the countess thought of nothing more than the sunlight playing with the leaves in the mild breeze. It seemed she would be meeting facets of herself she had thought lost, buried under many good causes and reasons. Yet Elizabeth got home with nothing more on her mind than a cool glass of lemonade and the shady chairs down by the river.

The violets growing profusely atop her rock wall now felt less like decoration and more like friends. Old Maggie had told her they were for watchfulness.

The following morning, Elizabeth put a white banner on a stick and stuck it through the slats on the gate, hoping Mutton and Tom would see it. Doing letters with two young boys felt like roots in the bottom of her slippers.