Tuesday, June 5, 2007

June 5 - Last Day in Rome

All good things (and bad things) must come to an end. Today was that day for me. Although I've enjoyed my time here tremendously, I'm ready to return to California and the various things awaiting my attention there.

This morning was the first day of having the community Mass in the Main Chapel. It was a bit of contrast to find the "red chairs" from the JPII Chapel now distributed around the main altar of the Main Chapel - this is the "regular" setup here. The group was smaller than usual, owing to the fact that various members of the community had gone elsewhere for a break or were simply sleeping in. In any case, all the evidence from the 44th General Chapter ("tent" effects, banner, music stands, keyboard, flowers, etc.) were gone and it was back to the normal routine, apparently.

After breakfast, I began to organize my "stuff" for taking it back home with me tomorrow. But I had arranged with Gerard Rummery to do some sight-seeing, and by 10 AM we were walking in Piazza de Populo, with him giving me an complete and fascinating history of the place, followed by a visit to the two Caravaggio paintings nearby - in the Augustinian church where Martin Luther stayed when he came to Rome. From there it was on to other churches where there were Caravaggio paintings, and to the Dominican church where there was a sculpture of Christ holding his cross, and to the Pantheon, and so on. Along the way, Gerard gave me some wonderful insights into the architecture and history of the area. By about noontime, my feet were dog-tired and I was ready for a break. So we took the bus back to the Motherhouse where I took a merciful nap and then was up and about for the main meal at 1 PM. At that meal, there was cake, champagne, and speeches to honor those from the house community who were leaving (five of the Councillors plus several other Brothers). They each also received a nice gift from the community.

After lunch, I became serious about organizing myself for tomorrow's departure, packing up my suitcases and sending about three boxes of acquired material down to the basement with Abram, who would package it all up and send it to me in Napa with all possible dispatch. It may get there in a few months. I also checked on some clothing that I had placed in the washer (I think it was the washer) yesterday. There was still water standing in it, and I couldn't open it with the jerry-rigged piece of rope that someone had tied to the broken handle unit. So I twiddled with the knob some more (It's all in Italina and I can't figure out what's what) and it began to make noise again, so I left it to its own devices. When I went back later, it was at yet another cycle. If I can't open it tonight, then I'll just leave it here and the first person who can figure out how to open the darn thing can have the clothes.

Finally completing that work around 3:30 PM, I called Gerard for phase two of the day. We again set out and this time wandered around the Florentine area of Rome, where Michaelangelo lives and worked and where there are still plenty of artisans to be found. Again, the history was fascinating and the small streets quite captivating. We ended up walking to Santa Maria de Trastevere (something that I had requested) to end our tour with that magnificent interior of early mosaics. In a sense, it's where I started my Roman journey (remember the Byzantine Mass that I attended here on my first Sunday in Rome) and it's a good place to end my visit to the city.

Then it was back to the Motherhouse via the tram and the bus, and then a brief respite before going out to dinner with Gerard, Leonardo, and Roch. We went to a favorite restaurant of Gerard's - one that he had been going to during his many years in Rome. While there, he told me that the maitre de (who looked to be about 35) was a small boy when he had first gone to this restaurant. The food was good, the company was excellent, and the conversation was captivating. It was yet another good way to end our time here.

Then it was back to the Motherhouse to finish this blog and then get to bed in preparation for tomorrow morning 8 AM departure for the airport (flight is at 11:15 AM). All good things must come to an end, and this end is darn close.
More pictures from today at http://picasaweb.google.com/gvangrie/ItalyJune5