I just got back from a three-day retreat for writers at a beautiful log-built chalet in Buena Vista, Colorado. I went there hoping to get encouragement to finish writing the first draft of my book about labyrinth weddings. I had intensive periods of writing and actually got done a rough first draft. That was good. The food, view, weather, and company were also good. But God had bigger ideas.

A crucible is a little ceramic pot we used in chemistry class to heat substances over a Bunsen burner. The heat melted and refined the substance, burning off any dross that might be clinging to the specimen. It can also be a situation where a person is subjected to forces that cause change. That’s what happened at the retreat.

I am sure we all arrived with expectations, but I was willing myself to remain open to whatever came. We all had our burdens and our wounds when we arrived, but some of us (like me) hoped to keep them hidden—just relax and have a nice time. Little did we know that God would subject us to the pressure of confession, tears, honesty, and challenge in the guise of prayer, sharing, laughter, and discussion.

Some of us got clear messages that were contrary to what we thought. Others had breakthroughs and made big life decisions. Others got a “kick in the butt” to embark on a scary project they had held back from before. We all had a great time and bonded with the others.

We had been told that God would “show up” at our retreat. He did, and being so close to him transformed each of us in some way. One had a glowing face. One had a shoulder wrenched out of place. One was pregnant with a project in gestation. One heard the call to Nineveh. No one remained the same. Now that’s what I call a good retreat! Thanks, God.

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