He talked, then he'd send us out to do a prayer exercise. Then we'd come back and he'd have us share in small groups. I usually hate that, but in this case it wasn't bad. No one felt the need to overshare, and no one was attention-seeking, which are the two things that can make small groups really obnoxious. We were all just sort of overcome by the silence and contemplative spirit of the retreat, so we shared and then we moved on.
The tough part was that he had us digging around in some pretty tender and wounded places. So much so that by 6:00 Thursday night I was pretty worn out. He had us spend a lot of time thinking about our childhood home and our childhood selves, and then we had to have conversations with our childhood selves about their greatest fear and their greatest longing.
Yeah, it was intense.
Then we spent a lot of time reflecting on a time that was sacred for us in our past, and when I say a lot of time I'm talking like 30 minutes...a far sight longer than most of us (me included!) are comfortable sitting in silence with ourselves.
There were other exercises that won't sound profound if I describe them. It was a very sensual and experiential time...and so unbelievably cleansing. By the time it was over I was deeply centered and grounded. I had pushed aside the anxieties that I had brought with me. I found myself able to respond rather than react, and I found myself to be much more compassionate.
At the end of the night we sat stood in a circle around a floorpiece made of a cross and three candles. He asked each of us to name our deepest fear or our deepest longing and then to sit down in the way that Jesus encouraged Martha just to sit with him (the premise being that Martha felt that she needed to be "doing" instead of just "being" in order to be found acceptable.
Profound doesn't begin to describe it.