For the past 3 months, I have been living in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. If I had to sum up Boston from January to now, it would be: cold. So very, very cold.
I’d heard about the notorious Boston winters before I moved here and people were right about that. While, thankfully, this year was a milder winter in terms of snowfall, it was not mild in temperature. The temperatures here have ranged from -20°C to occasional maximum temperatures of 18°C. Mostly, the winter averaged at about -5°C with wind chill that made it feel a lot colder.
To put this in context, I’m from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I have never lived somewhere with snow, let alone experienced a Boston level winter in my everyday life. I acclimatised quickly though, with the assistance of a very warm down coat. However, deep winter does require a little bit more willpower every day to venture outside which some days, can get exhausting. While being freezing most of the time, Boston has a lot of beautiful blue sky days so that helps!
All that to say, it is now spring.
Again, growing up on the Sunshine Coast – which doesn’t really have obvious seasons – spring like this is a new thing for me as well.
I have never felt more excited for spring in my life! I remember one day a couple weeks ago that I left my house to walk to college and I heard birds chirping. I hadn’t realised it, but the whole time I’d been in Boston I hadn’t heard birds chirping because they had obviously escaped the winter.
Hearing birds chirp made me so happy and suddenly I felt like I could sense the new life in the air. Every day that I walk through the city now, I excitedly look closely at the bare trees to see the tiny hints of new life growing on them. Every day there is a tree with a new bloom. Slowly but surely, the city landscape is coming back to life.
Through my Boston weather experiences over the last couple months, God has been illustrating a lot to me about seasons. I feel like I’ve been experiencing physically what I have experienced so many times spiritually: the thankful sense of relief that comes when winter turns into spring.
I’ve been through my fair share of spiritual winter seasons in life, and like winter in Boston, sometimes you wonder if it’s ever going to end. But, it does end. The snow thaws, the rains come to water new life instead of freezing it and the birds begin to chirp again.
Even though it was a physical winter season, my time in Boston has been a spiritual springtime season for me.
I’m in Boston for a study abroad semester for my university degree in Australia. It was a very complicated process to organise from applications, to timetables, to travel, to visas to housing. I organised it all while also studying full-time, working a lot to save and going through a lot of other life ‘stuff’.
That was a winter season for me. I was so stressed and so very tired. But, God had shown me that my Boston dream was going to be worth fighting for and so I stuck it out.
He did not let me down. Living and studying in this city has been the most incredible experience of my entire life, there have been constant surprises and moments where God’s favour and gifts to me have gone above and beyond my wildest expectations.
The thing that has made me overwhelmingly thankful the most though is the sense of rest I’ve experienced while I’ve been here. Which, in the natural, does not make sense. I moved by myself to a new country, to a city I’ve never been to, to study in a college system that I have no experience in.
Despite all that though, I’ve felt more at rest here than I have in years. I didn’t realise it, but for the past few years I have been burdened by stress. Stress from study, stress from finances and working, you name it.
But here, I haven’t been allowed to work and my study workload is significantly less than my university at home. A weight has been lifted off me and I feel like I can breathe deeply again. By putting me somewhere new, without all those comforts and routines, God has shown me that I’m still me without them.
I’ve realised that a lot of the burden I was carrying over the years, I put on myself. I set myself really high standards and goals and pushed myself beyond my limits to reach them.
In this season of winter turning into spring, God has reminded me the beauty of rest. The peace that comes from trusting Him to make things grow, to breathe new life. Even as I move back to Australia soon and go back to normal life of working and studying, I’m definitely going to carry this sense of springtime with me.
When springtime finally comes, make sure you’re ready to sit in the sunshine, relax and fully breathe in the new life that God is offering.
Caitlyn Furler is a lover of writing, music and people. She is a third-year university student, studying music, screenwriting and literature. She loves exploring culture and pushing herself to do braver and braver things.