Friday, April 15, 2011

Lent Day 32-33: Life in the fish bowl

The diversity in our three aquariums fascinates me because it mirrors much of life. Two are saltwater, and one is fresh. The first (tucked in a guest room as a "spare" in case the main one "tanks," if you know what I mean) is no trouble at all. I top it off with salt or fresh water, change the bulbs and filter medium every half year or so... and that's it. The fish eat every two days and swim with vigor. Crabs, shrimp, and snails keep the algae at bay. Red coraline algae grows and keeps the water clean. Once in a while something dies and I fish it out. No problems.

The other salt aquarium requires constant maintanance. It has the best live rock, great lighting and filtration, good livestock, but only one fish - who has lived through algae blooms, hermit crabs gone mad and eating every snail within reach, and cyanobacteria spikes. I'm constantly fighting green fronds growing over the live rock, sheets of it sluicing down the walls, and clumps spreading on the sand.

And finally, a freshwater tank sits on my desk. I brought 10 tetras and a few free guppies home after I'd arranged rocks and live plants, filter and lights. Voila, "It was very good."

Except that two nights later, the glass cracked and leaked 5 gallons of water down an irreplaceable library card cabinet onto the rug. I scrambled to get a cheap tank to put in the fish. Overnight in the stocking pail, several fish up-ended. I was left with about a third of the original occupants.

It's not pretty. The light cords hang over the front of the glass and the filter hangs off the visible edge, the only places they're accessible for maintenance. My eyes have become accustomed to "not seeing" the ugliness, blocking out the systems to see the beauty behind them. Most of the time it is calming and soothing to see the plants waving in the current, fish darting or fluttering their fins between them.

A few weeks after our deluge, I found a replacement tank to fit the original lighting and filtration. But I have to wait for new flooring (bamboo to match the rest of the upstairs) before I unsettle the fish again.

Meanwhile, the fish are unaware. They flourish in the temporary set-up, eating every two days, snails multiplying and plants growing around them. I thin the plants, feed fairly regularly, and rinse the filter every month or so. Low maintenance, and so relaxing!

Like my fish tanks, life is contained in our surroundings. Whether or not the environment is hostile or friendly, some people seem to thrive while some languish or give up altogether.

During Lent, I remember Jesus, who had initial hurrahs and "You're the man!" until people got tired of him and his message. They turned away in hostility and dismay when he disrupted their lives. He broke the rules and showed God's expectation of obedience to his law. He pointed out the hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement of "important people." He sent a herd of pigs over a cliff after exorcising a person's demons (ooh, not politically correct today either). And he refused to be drawn into circles of power and politics so he seemed irrelevant and impotent to those who valued human esteem.

My coach Jodi reminded me this week that Jesus rarely told anyone, "Hey, pay attention. I'm God's Son." Sometimes, if people figured it out, he even said, "Hush, don't spread that around!" We don't always have to be "preaching" and "proclaiming." Also, it's actually obnoxious to God when we hoard power or put others "in their place" because of our position in a company or organization.

Our role is to live where God has put us with love and integrity, in places fair and foul. Around the world, many Christians suffer and die each day. In other places, we enjoy peace and prosperity. God takes pleasure in watching over and caring for us, no matter what or where our fish bowl. I for one am very grateful for that today.

No comments:

Post a Comment