Sleepy Wasps and Ecclesiastes

I have always disliked autumn.

“Don’t be fooled by all the beauty and colour on the trees!” I want to yell to the general public. “Look down at the pavement – all those black-spotted, tired-brown leaves: fallen, forgotten, squashed, forlorn. That is the real soul of autumn – a depressed mush of misery, leading only to the endless darkness of winter.”

(Because I’m a cheery sort).


As I’m housebound with severe ME and rarely leave the house, my body is ravenous for sun during winter. This year in Britain we’ve had a good summer that’s rolled into an Indian summer, and it’s been wonderful. I don’t want summer to end.

And yet….sleepy wasps have been speaking to me this year, reminding me of the value of autumn, and much else.

You see, in summer, wasps are a pain. They are busy, loud and aggressive, and even though I am allegedly a grown-up, I am still terrified of them. They plague your food and you are forever batting them away. The hotter it is, the more energy they have and the more they do. Wasps are intimidating, magnificent models of efficiency and productivity. And they’re LOUD about it.

If wasps were human, they’d be selling smug bestsellers called “The 7½ Secrets to a Successful Life.”

And the truth is, I wish all life were summer, and I were a busy wasp. I love being active, productive, accomplished. (I am also quite partial to being warm.) I wish for a vivacious, successful-yet-restful, memory-making, significant, fulfilling life – and subconsciously I expect that state to be continuous. Like the happy endings in movies.


Outside my house, the skies are blue and the sun is out, the trees cling on to their green leaves, and the only way you know it’s no longer summer is the biting wind.

You also know by the wasps. Poor wasps, they buzz confusedly, slowly, searching for food, wondering why it looks like summer, and yet the berries have gone. Their bodies have to work harder in the cool wind. I no longer have the heart to bat them away, because they drift away, dazed, by themselves. They are a shadow of their former summer selves.

In a word, the wasps are tired.

They need to hibernate. Even wasps need a rest.

Most of us westerners are so far removed from our agricultural roots that we have lost our connectedness with the rhythms of the earth. A summer season is fun, but it is not sustainable – not for wasps, not for humans, either.

We are built for variety, and paradoxically even those activities we most love can drain us if it is all we do. We are not robots, machines, productive automatons, and to treat ourselves or others in this way is dangerous and wrong. We are human, and we need the all the seasons.

We are not created to continue in a state of perpetual activity. If we do, we will break.


From sleepy wasps and seasons I hop straight to Ecclesiastes, in the Bible.

“There is a time for everything,” says the Philosopher in Ecclesiastes, “and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecc 3:1 NIV).

We don’t do everything all at once: we need seasons in our own life, too.

There is, as the Philosopher says:

“…a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away…”(Ecc 3:4-6)

Sleepy wasps and Ecclesiastes tell me important truths about seasons of life. I love this lingering summer, but for the sake of the wasps and the trees, the winter must come. I need the periods of seemingly-wasted time for my body to heal. I need the fallow periods of not writing in order for the ideas to float back.

I’m reclaiming autumn as a time to slow down and look around. There are parts of us that need to hibernate so that new life can emerge.

So this is Ecclesiastes, paraphrased, for exhausted parents:

There is a time for giving sacrificially, and there is a time for calling on friends or family to hold the reins while you sleep and regain your sanity.
There is a time for absorbing yourself in your kids; there is a time for going on a date night and remembering who you are.
There is a time to care; there is a time to receive care.

Ecclesiastes for workers:

There is a time for innovation, facilitation, presentation, visualisation, experimentation, synchronisation, modification, incorporation, documentation, amalgamation; there is a time for actually using your lunch hour and walking in the park, breathing fresh air, thinking of nothing but squirrels and noisy birds. (To avoid hospitalisation).
There is a time for concentration; there is a time for contemplation.
There is a time to travail; there is a time to exhale.

Ecclesiastes for writers:

There is a time to write like you’re freewheeling; there is a time to write like you’re hammering your own fingers.
There is a time to create; there is a time to critique.
There is a time to push; there is a time to pause.

Ecclesiastes for the chronically ill:

There is a time to push your body or mind to do the thing you love; there is a time to close your eyes and lean into the pain and exhaustion.
There is a time to see people to keep yourself sane; there is a time for silence and rest to keep yourself healthy.
There is a time for progress; there is a time for rest.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecc 3:1

Over to you: 
  • What has autumn/fall been saying to you?
  • If you were to paraphrase Ecclesiastes for yourself, what would it say?

[P.S. sorry for the sporadic blogging – had a bad attack of vertigo this month and still recovering. Bear with!]


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20 Responses to Sleepy Wasps and Ecclesiastes

  1. Monika Bucher 28th October, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

    Interesting pictures, Tanya! Am just experiencing a drastic ‘seasonal reversal’. A week ago I was able to be out with all our family for the celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary and I had a good day, enjoying Spring blossoms (NZ season) in the park too. The next day I came down with a cold/cough virus with lack of appetite, feeling extremely weak and 2 days ago some tummy pain and diarrhea. While I quckly got over the cold symptoms, I am feeling totally washed out and haven’t felt so weak in years. So that’s my season reversal from ‘time to be healthy (as healthy can go with M.E.) to time to be sick, time of rejoicing to time of ‘mourning’. I am finding it a bit difficult to accept my total weakness right now, but try to hang on to ‘when I am weak, then He is strong.’

    • Tanya 6th November, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

      I’m really glad that you got to go out to celebrate your anniversary, but sorry that the payback was so sudden. It IS disappointing and discouraging to find yourself so unexpectedly weak. How are you at the moment? Sending much love

      • Monika Bucher 7th November, 2016 at 12:06 am #

        Thanks Tanya, still recovering from that virus and feeling weak, but back on normal diet last few days. Glad to see you had such a lovely Guy Fawkes. My 4 year old grandson told me all about the different fireworks that were in their box to be let off. Blessings!

        • Tanya 20th November, 2016 at 10:05 am #

          Glad at least that you’re back on the normal diet. I know how scary it is, though, (and discouraging) to be laid so low after a virus, and not knowing how long the after-effects are going to last. Praying that you’re back to your ‘normal’ soon. Much love

          • Monika Bucher 20th November, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

            Thanks Tanya! I have been pretty good for the past two weeks, so the virus has not been affecting my M.E. Much, thank God! Blessings to you!

    • Stephanie 7th November, 2016 at 3:21 am #

      Monika, I’m sorry. Experiencing payback of that swiftness and severity can be disheartening, especially when it’s on the heels of celebrating something so wonderful as an Anniversary. Congratulations and wishing you well.

      • Monika Bucher 20th November, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

        Thanks Stephanie, and thank God the past two weeks I have been better and looks like the virus did not affect my M.E., something one never knows,eh.

  2. JA Andrews 24th October, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    I read this yesterday on my phone, so couldn’t comment (you don’t want to try to read my thumb typing skills…) but wanted to come back today because it’s lovely.

    Seasons always make me pause, there’s the inexorable marching forward of it, but there’s also the cyclicalness of it, how we revisit the same seasons over and over again. Some parts are breathtakingly gorgeous, other parts are worn out looking. There’s just something that strikes me as so TRUE about it all.

    Your Ecclesiastes for Writers is timely, as I keep trying to do everything at once. (sigh).

    • Tanya 6th November, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

      I always love reading your comments!
      Doing everything at once is very hard…Sounds like you’re under pressure at the moment?
      Sending much love to you and your mountain xx

      • JA Andrews 6th November, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

        I love that you respond to comments! It makes me happy, like we’re pen pals.

        • Tanya 6th November, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

          yay! I’ve not been great at responding to comments this year, but I really like doing it. Because – as you say – penpals! I used to have loads when I was a kid. You’re totally one I’d really want to meet up with.

          • JA Andrews 6th November, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

            Definitely! If there wasn’t that little ocean in the way…

            • Tanya 20th November, 2016 at 10:03 am #

              Pesky ocean

  3. Nathalie 24th October, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Tanya, this very much reminds me of Dallas Willard’s words, “you must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our world today” – the value & necessity of rest seems to be something people are really hearing at the mo – love that this has been put on your heart too – hugely encouraging connection in a kingdom & every day life kind of way.

    • Tanya 6th November, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

      Oh gosh – I love those words from Dallas Willard, and hadn’t heard them before. Thanks so much for this encouraging comment – you’re a star!

  4. Stephanie 24th October, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    I very much appreciated the Ecclesiastes reminder today. I’ve been needing to slow down and rest, but tend to feel like I’ve lost ground if I can’t maintain the same activity level all the time. I’ve been busier since July and am worn out. Now is the time to refocus on routine and rest, not wait for a full-on relapse. Rather than thinking of it as a step back, it helps to think of it as a season.

    I feel for you on the lack of sunshine and the vertigo. I’m not sure I remember vertigo being an issue for you. Is there anything you can do for it or do you just have to wait it out?

    • Tanya 6th November, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

      ” tend to feel like I’ve lost ground if I can’t maintain the same activity level all the time.” – yes, I know this one! Especially when you’ve just said to yourself, ‘aha! I’m improving finally! Not going backwards!’ – it’s like you want your body to prove you right. And in my experience definitely wise to take the step back before the relapse, and reframing it as a choice rather than something forced on you.

      The vertigo is weird – have had a few incidents of it, but it’s not a regular symptom, so I’m listening to it. Thankfully, after a month it finally seems to be easing off. Having a few investigations, and hoping they will tell me what to do if it happens again

      • Stephanie 7th November, 2016 at 2:01 am #

        “‘aha! I’m improving finally! Not going backwards!’ – it’s like you want your body to prove you right. And in my experience definitely wise to take the step back before the relapse, and reframing it as a choice rather than something forced on you.”

        Glad to hear the vertigo is easing off. I’ve experienced it a few very brief times and can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you to have had that as an ongoing symptom for an entire month. Egads. Hope they’re able to give you some helpful info.

        • Tanya 20th November, 2016 at 10:32 am #

          Thanks, Stephanie!


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