I think that oftentimes we tend to believe the world around us is one that runs somewhat smoothly for most, save a few twists and turns along the way. Once we reach adulthood, we very easily fall into the mundane rhythms of everyday life. We get up, go to work, come home, take care of our families, and spend a little time to ourselves before going to bed and starting the process over again. Not too much can happen within those moments that are stolen throughout the day, the moments that we haven’t committed to a corporation or building a home, and so it seems as though life for everyone is one that is filled mostly with a calm and content happiness.
Everyone, that is, except for yourself.
Somehow, your life is one that is met with consistent struggles. Even though the moments you have to yourself are a precious few, they almost always seem to be filled with another battle to be fought or another crossroad to be navigated. Whether internally or externally, there are things always going on around you that somehow sneak their way into the unsold moments, and you wonder why everyone else seems to have a life that is met with an almost blissful peace.
Something interesting I have found is that the narrative I just presented could be read by almost anyone, in any stage of life, and they would feel as though it was written for them. We spend so much time figuring out how to handle the next crisis that we barely have time to take care of ourselves, much less share our struggles with someone else; and so we wade through life, wondering why we seem to be the only ones drowning in such shallow waters.
Why don’t we address this? If we’re all struggling, why is it so hard for us to find support? Where can we find validation for the insecurities we face or encouragement for the internal wars we wage?
I would argue that it’s not a matter of willingness, but a matter of time. Taking the time to share your own journey or listen to someone else’s is just something that we can’t seem to afford in this culture, and so we are often left to our own devices and narratives.
When we started Church Folk, it was initially just an outlet for us to share new music and function as a fun distraction from the demands of everyday life. After about a year, however, the purpose changed. We began to notice that the songs we wrote, while written about our own personal experiences, actually resonated with many others as well. We discovered that we weren’t the only ones going through these things: we were just taking the time to articulate them; and so, in October of 2020, we decided to pursue the idea of releasing an album.
The process of translating our songs from an acoustic trio into a fully fleshed-out band with all the bells and whistles we could possibly want posed more of a problem than we initially expected. We each had our own ideas of what we wanted the music to be and how we wanted our messages portrayed. I remember when a draft of our first song came back, we had to put a halt on recording because we could not agree on how we wanted to move forward with it. Questions about the integrity of our message, the quality of our music, and the reception by others were all met with equally passionate opinions, and finding space where we agreed became difficult. We had to participate in a number of uncomfortable conversations about the group, the album, and ourselves. That, on top of working remotely with our producer due to COVID-19, made the creation of this album especially difficult; however, ten months later, we had the immense privilege of releasing “Letters to Ghosts”.
I mentioned time before. One of the final things we decided on for this album was the title, and it all centered around the concept of time. Many of the songs that appear on the album are ones that were written for someone once it was too late for them to hear it. They are made up of things we wish we had said or things we wish we could say now. We grieve losses, navigate unresolved feelings, or try to right past wrongs. In many of the songs we share our struggles and shortcomings, and are brutally honest about what we believe to be true about them.
Our hope for “Letters to Ghosts” is to be a walking companion to those who may be going through the same things we have, to be a conduit of articulation for those who might not know how to express their longings or needs, or to simply be a form of closure for people who are haunted by the ghosts of their past. We wanted to take the time to be a voice for those who haven’t yet found their own, and be something that can cut through the noise we often find ourselves in during those stolen, lonely moments.
We are never as alone as we feel. We simply need to take the time to see it.
Katie Wilson is a wife, mother, and member of the band, Church Folk. Her professional background falls under marketing and graphic design, where she holds a special passion for aiding nonprofits and small businesses in their efforts to share their stories.