“Now the body is not made of one part, but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:14
We have a new fish tank at our house. Although adding to the ridiculously large number of pets we have was not my plan, I have nonetheless found them interesting to watch. The whole process of acclimating the fish to their new environment was carefully orchestrated: first their bags are placed (closed) into the new tank so the water temperature can equalize. Then the bags are opened (at the top only) so they can get used to the new air. And only after a good stretch of time has passed are they ready to have a bit of the new water added to the inside of their bags. Bit by bit, more new water is mixed in, until it’s about half old and half new. And at the end of this long process they are finally, finally dumped out into the tank.
It’s a community, the sales lady told us. Everything depends on everything else. These fish will bring their own bacteria (good and bad) to the tank and each plant and rock in the tank will also bring its own unique bacteria to this carefully balanced system. It’s not just about the individual fish—it’s about all of the fish interacting together, it’s about the air and the water and the plants and even the algae forming on the walls of the tank.
Maybe if I gave myself as much time for long and gradual adjustment as we gave our fish, I wouldn’t be so worn out by living in a new place. But after being scooped up and dumped out in one swift motion, I find one tank so different from another I scarcely know myself to be a fish anymore. And that is the danger point—forgetting who I am, and simply taking on all the characteristics of my new tank as if they were my own. Some of that is good, but it also means the new tank loses out on what is different about me. I need to know how to be who I am in a new place. And my new place needs to get used to a new fish.
Acclimation is not easy. It’s definitely not fast. And it may never be finished, because things are always changing. But still, we’re working on it. Because in a community, everything depends on everything else.