My employment history includes a stint in retail management that extended for several years. While working as an assistant manager for a furniture store, my shifts began either in the morning or at midday, and varied week to week. Physically maintaining the sales floor was an ongoing project. Dusting, reorganizing merchandise displays and restocking shelves, as well as chasing down rogue items that customers had taken from one location and left in another, could easily fill a full eight-hour shift. Sometimes a "relocation project" could remain undetected for hours if customer traffic increased, only to surface at the worst possible time, the exact moment the store manager walked in for his afternoon shift at two o'clock.

His patrol began at the right side of the store. Then, as if from nowhere, a voice would arise, asking the simple question, "What's that doing there?"

"That" could be a chair or lamp rearranged by a customer, a display abandoned before its completion, or a pile of packing foam that had been deserted to fend for itself in the middle of the floor after a new item had been placed out for sale. It didn't matter what the disruption was or why it was still there. No explanation, reasonable or ludicrous, was acceptable because the mess should already have been cleaned up, the furniture should have been put back in place and the display should have been completed. It took me two years to realize that there was no right answer for, "What's that doing there?"

My former supervisor, still a close friend, and I now laugh about those weekly scenarios. But those moments reveal a simple truth about life that cannot be ignored: the world presents many moments that do not fit or are not where they belong, and there frequently are no right answers for why they are not, or cannot be, fixed.

Natural disasters come to mid. Natural, even somewhat expected at the back of our minds, in an offhand way, they still surprise and disturb us to the core, even when we are not directly affected. Perhaps our unconscious sensibilities recognize all too well that we could be next in line for a tornado, earthquake, hurricane or tsunami. Despite our best efforts, controlling the weather, our environment and the earth itself, we do not possess those gifts or skills.

Human illness and disability also come to mind. For years we've talked about the amazing advances of medical technology. Being old enough to remember a time before some of these advances, I am continually amazed by the rich, meaningful lives people can live because of organ transplants, chronic disease management and nutritional counseling. But our technology also has limits. We cannot cure all illness or disease, and some disabilities, emotional, mental and physical, still baffle the best physicians in the world.

Less concrete, but equally mysterious in their lack of reason, are moral issues that confront us each day. People continue to suffer in extreme poverty around the world, violence in our communities is reported as standard issue on our nightly news broadcasts here in the United States and Iraq still struggles to solidify itself into a country that can begin to set aside past anguish and move forward to a meaningful future.

And, in each of our lives, every day, we bump up against problems, issues, fears, and false hopes, and wonder, "What's that doing there?" For these times in our world, our nation, and our own lives, there is no right answer for what these things are doing there, why they are still not fixed, and may never be fixed. But we are assured in the very first verses of the Gospel of John that God has been with us since the beginning, and always will be because, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John1: 5)."

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting