I opened my Merriam-Webster Dictionary app today and the word of the day, CRUCIBLE flashed at me in psychedelic neon. (I made that last part up.) OK, it may well be in black and white print, but the effect on my brain was the same. ‘A severe test‘ enhanced my reactionary impulse. OMG.

Such a cruel word, it seemed out of place, like WT____?!?  Couldn’t you have chosen more carefully, Merriam or Webster?! Which of you made such a blunder, causing such discomfort and creating a foreboding on the masses looking to you for fresh vocabulary insights today? You could have gone with, say, SERENE? (tranquil) or perhaps, EUPHORIC? (elated) or maybe, TRIUMPH? (victory), but no, you had to go there?? To the place we all have to live and dwell for extended periods of time throughout our lives, tapping our fingers waiting, wondering, crying “UNCLE!” begging out, bleeding, commiserating, asking “why?” and wondering, what if…when, how??!

And so, as our eyes light upon this word of the day we are reminded of our severe tests and their outcomes. Perhaps it was a diagnosis. A marriage #fail? A financial crisis? A child gone astray? A career mishap? A church disaster? None of us participating in this insane marathon called the human race is exempt. It’s universal, right? We’ve all tasted of intense trials, been encapsulated in our extended-play ‘crucibles;’ those lonely, isolated, panic rooms of pain, torture even, awaiting the end of the story, looking to see a better view from the other side.

And how did we react? Did we, with our life choices, attitudes and investments, ramp up the intensity of our suffering, or, with self-control, wisdom and patience, grow and abound with a bittersweet sense of destiny wrapped around our circumstances? Are we proud of our responses? Did we make it out unscathed? What did fate decide? Did we learn, did we change and grow, did we come out better for the ugly trial?? We may indeed limp from the battle, but do we taste of the bitterness of vitriol as we reflect? We’ve lived in the fiery furnace, but do we still smell like smoke?

Merriam, Webster, whichever one of you chose today’s text, you will have touched many a tender nerve and doused some cold water in surprised faces this fine summer day. You didn’t choose neutrality; you won’t be ignored, skimmed over or easily forgotten. Well done.