How would I describe eight days in and out of prayer? I suppose that I wouldn't. You might make a similar retreat, but it would be completely different, and you would wonder what on earth I had been talking about.
But I can offer a bit of the feel of it, with some help from others and from a couple of poems I'll post later.
Since my Josh died while I was on retreat two years ago, I am the last person in the world to assure anyone of finding, for instance, God ~ or rest, or reassurance, or understanding, or answers, or peace, while on retreat. You might find some of those things, or you might find the opposite. Or something else entirely.
I've read two posts this past week that have some bearing on my experience, this past week and in the past two years. I recommend them both. One is by Catholic writer Tim Muldoon, describing something I'd read awhile back, the idea of "God's project" as voiced by Joseph Tetlow, S.J. I don't mean to imply that Tetlow's thoughts played any conscious part in my prayer while I was on retreat, but when I returned home and read the post, it seemed to reflect on much of what I've found.
The other is a sermon on Jacob's encounter by Presbyterian pastor Mags of Magdalene's Musings, exploring what it's like to wrestle with God and with truth, and to emerge, finally, both damaged and victorious, in God's forgiveness and love. There's been a bit of all that in my life as well.
I guess that one of the reasons I love making a retreat in the silence and in the company of a skilled and sensitive director is that the whole experience is undergirded by a powerful and gentle openness to God's project, whatever that may be and however it may be making itself manifest at a particular time in your life, and that you are embraced by both challenge and support in bringing your own honest response to God.
There's no program, there's no requirement to get from here to there, there's no expectation that your prayer be aligned with someone else's standard or pattern.
There's God, and you, and God's reach for you, and someone to help you begin to make sense of what is happening. And then there are the months ahead, in which whatever was said and experienced and found in prayer begins to unfold.