I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas? I would say that the highlight of this holiday season for me was going to see Future of Forestry in concert! This was really important to me and had a huge impact on my life. There is so much I need to say about it. Where do I start?
Yep. You got it. I should start at the beginning. Ok. Here goes…
This is the musical chronology of my life.
Classical music. More Classical music. Baroque. Real Classical. Romantic. Early modern. Opera! More classical. Beethoven. Chopin. Bach. Gershwin. Tchaikovsky. Haydn. Verdi.
I became vaguely aware of people like Josh Groban and Celine Dion. They were kinda good! But who can compare to Mozart? Then I found I liked early jazz. And discovered Pandora. So of course my musical world grew exponentially. Nina Simone led me to Melody Gardot who led me to Adele. Then came the surreal moment when I was shopping one day and, for the first time, actually recognized a song being played in the store. Soon after that I tuned into NPR only to hear the pundits talking about this rising singer Adele. I was slightly concerned that I was becoming so connected with popular culture. I finally decided there was nothing necessarily reprehensible about listening to Adele, haha.
Then I stumbled upon some contemporary Christian music. I don’t really have much regard for that type of music as a genre. But I discovered Chris Rice, who was pretty amazing. There is so much freedom and joy in his music, it is infectious. It reminded me that Christians need to be these happy, rejoicing people, not all dour and glum. So I went through the Chris Rice phase.
And somehow found Future of Forestry. Or it found me. I don’t know. I think I had heard the name a few times in passing conversations, but it didn’t seem to be “my kind of music.” I can’t even remember what compelled me to look up the band. But I did. And there was no going back. The music immediately resonated with me, it touched my heart in a way music has never done before. I can’t even express how comforting those songs were to me. Future of Forestry has been my music of reassurance and encouragement in a lot of different situations.
Then I realized Future of Forestry had two Christmas EP’s. Let me be honest about Christmas music. I don’t really like much of it. I have to be in the right mood for Michael Bublé, and a lot of arrangements of Christmas hymns seem to be missing the essence of what Christmas is about, like somewhere along the line the songs just became these trite soulless recitations of something that had once been beautiful and profound. So I was a little skeptical about the Future of Forestry Christmas songs. But there was nothing to be skeptical about whatsoever. Their arrangements had soul. They were reverent. They captured the heart of these timeless Christmas hymns. I was looking forward to a Christmas season full of Future of Forestry. A friend (and Future of Forestry fan) went to their website and saw that they were doing an Advent tour this December. And they were having a concert only two hours away! We immediately began planning our trip and I began counting down. December 17th.
So the concert. Spectacular. Amazing. Hearing the music live was beautiful. It was so authentic and true. It was an inspiration to avoid “burying my talents” and taking the easy path in life. We should not be spending our lives doing things we don’t like so we can keep on doing things we don’t like. Being a musician is not a particularly stable profession, in fact it can be very insecure. A lot of people can’t handle that uncertainty, which is fine because many important jobs require someone who has a high value for stability. But then there are the dreamers, the artists, the musicians, who are willing to give up security for the pursuit of their passions. If you’re willing to take risks, to work like crazy without any promise of a return, then you will probably end up with an enormous level of satisfaction and fulfillment. I admire people who have the courage to break out of our “safe” society and pursue what they love. So while something can be said for a steady 9-5 job, some people have a burning need to do more, and it is tragic if we are so bound by social conventions or fear of failure that we don’t allow these talents to be used by God. Don’t waste your life on mediocrity.
During the concert I finally understood why the Future of Forestry Christmas songs are so good. Their music is about escaping from the stress and rush of this world, it is about finding peace, slowing down enough to have an introspective contemplation about what this Christmas season really means. I could sense that this was not just another show to make it through, this was a special experience for the band members. They were entering into the joy, celebration, and emotion of the music just as the audience was. Christmas is often a time full of stress, hectic days, and busyness. But it ought to be a time to slow down and reflect on the Gospel. Christmas is about the Lord God becoming flesh. God incarnate. Coming to this sin-infested, ugly, dark, hateful, world. To give up His life for rebels such as us, so that there could at last be peace. Stop rushing. Be still long enough to feel the peace of God. As Eric said, it was not about hurrying from song to song just to get out there. It was about experiencing a place of rest and peace. I’ve had people comment on how mellow these songs are, and that is exactly why I like this style. It leaves your mind free to consider the miracle of Christ’s incarnation. They were purposefully creating a place of peace and rest, where we can leave behind the conflict, the worries, the sorrow, take time to be introspective, to reflect on what God has done, and most of all, rejoice in His gift to the world.
Life is about finding the peace and joy of Christ regardless of anything else. We do not need to be frazzled, stressed out, unhappy people. There is a place for mourning and sorrow, but it needs to be tempered with trust in God and thanksgiving for His grace. Future of Forestry music is like being able to retreat to that beautiful place of rest, where the grace of God makes all things new, where we are reminded of what truly matters in life, where we gain the strength to face the trials of this world.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2.14