I asked Joy what "spirituality" means. It was just after the Wednesday Reiki gathering and I'd stayed back to help her clean up--fold away the massage table, put neglected pens and tin cups (everybody here has a tin cup) in the lost-and-found box, that sort of thing.
"Why don't you ask Charlie?" she asked. "He's your spirit-master, right?"
"He doesn't use the term."
"Doesn't he? Well, no, I suppose he wouldn't. That's odd."
"Well, he is."
"We all are, that's why we're here."
"Ok, so, what is spirituality?"
"What do you think it is?"
"And that's why I didn't ask Allen."
Joy laughed and then thought for a moment, one hand on her hip, the other held up, the back of her thumb pressed against her lips.
"You know each of us would give you a different answer, right?" she asked. "I can't be authoritative on this."
"And that's why I'm asking you--I want your answer. You're my magic-master, after all, and my healing-master, so that's certainly related."
"That's true." She gave me a flash of a smile. I think she felt a little flattered by the question. She pulled up a chair and sat down on it, backwards, to talk. Unfortunately, it was the only chair in the room, which is usually used for dance, martial arts, things like that, so I sat on the edge of the window-sill. "Spirituality is the spirit-quality of something. But when I say 'my spirituality,' that's different from when I say 'my spirit.' When I say the latter, I am naming one of my parts, when I say the former...I'm indicating my connection to Spirit, to Source."
"You always call it that."
"Source? Not always. That's what it is, though."
"You all call it something different."
"And Charlie calls it nothing at all."
"Actually," I told her, "he calls it 'God,' just not very often."
Joy's surprise startled me, though I know her well enough that it should not have. It continually surprises me that the masters don't all know each other well, despite having worked and more or less lived together for years. Joy was a novice when Charlie was a candidate, and she returned for her candidacy the year he was hired, so I think he was her teacher, but she doesn't really know him except on a superficial level. I don't think she dislikes him at ll, and I don't think I've ever heard him mention her one way or the other, their lives just somehow don't intersect much.
While we'd been talking, night had fallen outside gradually. There was a little light from one of the other windows (the Mansion is L-shaped, so we were on one leg of the L, getting light from the other leg), but I suddenly realized I couldn't see Joy anymore. I re-lit one of the little globe candles on the floor that I'd gotten distracted from putting away. When I looked up at her, she was staring at the candle flame, entranced. She shook herself, slightly, and looked at me.
"How is he, as a spirit-master?" she asked, meaning Charlie.
"Fantastic," I told her, and realized I'd never said as much to Charlie. I tried to imagine what he'd do if I told him and failed. "I can't always explain what he's doing or why, and half the time I kinda want to choke him, but I keep doing what he asks and....I don't know." Which sounds kind of nonsensical and lame, but Joy laughed warmly.
"Sounds about right," she said.
"Speaking of which, I have to go." I'd just realized I was about to be late for Dead Poets' Society.
"What...?" Joy began, and then figured out the connection. "You mean Charlie's secret poetry thing."
So, she's not completely unfamiliar with him.
"Sounds right," said Joy