Jon Foreman

2020 hit me hard. Death and Decay and Discouragement. This year, all that was once stable and familiar in my life was turned upside down. My family, my occupation, my country, and my world was turned on it’s head and I found myself face to face with the terrifying existential questions of doubt and purpose and meaning. Night after night, the questions kept me awake:

 

Why am I here? 

Do I matter? 

If there is a God of love and truth and light and joy, why is there so much pain? 

So much pain in me?

Why death?

Why life?

 

I wish I could tell you that I weathered this storm with courage and bravery. But it was not always the case. In fact, it was a low year. A year of regret and dismay. A year of discouragement. My body ached in new, horrible ways. For the first time in my life, I began to have anxiety attacks- having trouble breathing with a fire burning in my chest. I was depressed. Moody. Angry. And frustrated. 

 

I fought hard against this year. And the year has won.

 

Looking back at the year, I have so many moments I wish I could handle differently- with my family, with my bandmates, with my friends.  It was a year of growing pains. A year of surrender.  2020 was an unwanted gift, a stern tutor that faced me to learn lessons that I had been avoiding for years. 2020 taught me things that I’m not sure I could have learned any other way. But the journey that brought me here was not completely in vain. In fact, I would not trade it even if I could.

 

Somewhere along the way I began to realized that pain is not the enemy. That doubt is not the enemy. That loss and fear and destruction are not the enemy. I began to embrace the upheaval of our times as a clarifying agent, reminding me that temporal systems of meanings like fame or finance cannot provide eternal security. 

 

I began to realize that the fertilizer of doubt and despair and pain can be a generous soil for beautiful things. The soil of life is messy, filled with worms and decay and broken dreams. The soil of my soul was (and still is) scattered with the rotting ideas of what I thought this year would bring. And yet, my dreams and hopes lay lifeless in the dirt. Ended prematurely. But these broken parts of us are often the very place where future beauty can bloom. 

 

2020 taught me that seeds do not grow well in a garden overgrown with other plants already thriving. New growth comes from the soil of decay. The rotting balance of their dreams past are the fertile ground where future dreams can grow. This broken year was a year of weeding, clearing the garden of my mind to make room for something new. 

 

2020 taught me that even theft itself is not the enemy. Nothing that we possess is ours for long. Everyday we are afforded opportunities to give ourselves away. We will each have to face our own demise one day, and dying to self is a lifelong education. 

 

2020 taught me that Death is not the answer, it’s the question. Death is the ever-present frame of the moment, reminding us that this canvas of life is bounded, asking us all “What we will make of the life you’ve been given? This moment you hold in your hands?”

 

2020 taught me that rebirth is possible ONLY after death, surrender, and loss. That whoever finds their life will lose it. 

 

During the lowest moments, I turned to meditation, prayer, and songs, attempting to find a vehicle to sing into this new storm of doubt and despair. That’s where this album was born. 

 

This is an album born of the journey, not the destination. “Departures” is not a record of bold proclamations, but instead of whispered confessions. Attempting to come to terms with who I am and who I am not. This is the soundtrack for the uncertain questions. These are odes to the open door. Songs of wander and wonder. Songs of loss and lament. 

 

“Departures” is a story told backwards. An album that attempts to embrace the moment we’re in. Embracing not only the pain and fear and the doubt and the loss but also the joy and the beauty and the longing present in the moment. This album is an open armed embrace of my own limitations. An embrace of who I am, and who I am not. An embrace of what is worth living for, and what is not. Of who God is, And who he is not. 

 

I pray that “departures” would awaken sleeping souls to a horizon beyond the loss and pain and doubt and death of our times. May these songs awaken you. Like clarion call reminding you of all that is good and true and beautiful. Awakening that which is within you that is still alive! There is a heart yet beating within your breast. Let us rise once more. That we might live while we still can.