The first report from Community Life ended just before the break, and so we were set up for the second "sondage" after the break. This time, we had a nice-looking voting box to drop the votes into, and the process was similar to yesterday's, except that today everyone wrote down only one name. The Scrutineers took the box out and spent a good hour making their tabulation. ALso during the break, I followed the group of "young Brothers" to the roof where Roch took pictures of them as a group. I also took some shots with the cameras that they laid at my feet, and with my own. They are a quite diverse group of Brothers who have already had a few meetings of their own and seem to be getting along quite well.
During the late morning session, the Association theme group report was presented and discussed. I wasn't there for the whole discussion, but there were many questions and concerns that were brought up. These dealt with assumptions, theological interpretations, definitions, and other very basic elements that - especially on this topic - are as varied as the Brothers themselves. This is one topic about which each one appears to have a certain kind of experience, interpretation, conviction, and concern. Generally, the interest is quite positive; but the direction is less clear. In the end, there was no clear consensus and the theme group will assimilate the comments and suggestions for another consideration next week.
When the discussion ended, the results of the sondage were not announced - they were simply displayed on the screen. About 30 seconds of silence followed, and then we had some announcements and dismissed for lunch. Again, I can't divulge the results, of course, but this process of having a "sondage" does provide some clear indicators for people to consider prior to the definitive voting on Monday.
During the afternoon, besides working on the steps involved in Monday's election, procession to the Chapel, etc. (I spoke with Br. Superior privately to learn what past experience had been), Roch and the volunteers and I went to the "Metro" store, which is a kind of warehouse store similar to Costco in the U.S. There we each wandered around various aisles, seeing an abundance of things compared to the small shops that I'm used to seeing here in Italy. I even found some transparent labels for the candles; something I thought I'd never find here. Roch bought supplies for a planned big dinner sometime next week.
Instead of going into town - the afternoon was "free" except for those groups that were still doing some minor editing on their reports - I spent some time in my room finishing a book by Karen Armstrong that I had picked up in the English language social room. In my room you could clearly hear the louder-than-normal screaming of the kids from the school next door. When I investigated, I found that today was some sort of game day, with parents and kids everywhere playing all sorts of games. It looked like a lot of fun, and the regular punctuation of shouts of glee from hundreds of kids seemed to confirm it.
Tonight we had a rather long Central Commission meeting, both to go over the detailed process envisioned for Monday and Tuesday, and to address some other issues regarding the theme groups reports. The time crunch is beginning to be evident, and I'm sure that it will get more pronounced as this last week proceeds. So I'm glad that tomorrow I'm joining a group of Brothers going to Orvieto by train for the Pentecost celebration - something having to do with pigeons or doves and strings and things.
More pictures from today may be seen at http://picasaweb.google.com/gvangrie/ItalyMay26