Sarah Slean, Snow, Perennial rearrangement

A week ago, after seeing Sarah Slean, the goddess of perennial rearrangement**, we decided to go to the cabin, a 45 minute drive west of the city.

It was snowing. Not one of those white-knuckle clenched-jaw blizzards, just one that kept you wondering if you should have gone back to the apartment.

West of the city, Spruce Grove was under a partial black-out, power trucks were on the highway, snowploughs were out by Stony Plain, and we were down to 50 clicks in places. We kept driving. Because you know how with every mile forward, resolve—albeit shaky—displaces misgiving. Then, when we turned north the snow let up. Still hypnotic on high beams—coming at you like stars at the Enterprise—but windshield-clear on low beams. We drove on and made it in before midnight.

We slept. The night gave way and the morning sky had that high-cloud promise of clearing…small patches of blue through gauzy cloud.

Coffee, then outside to walk around. The snow that had fallen was sticky, heavy, not so much as to burden the poplar, just bedeck their branches, and everything else, like over zealous hoarfrost.

When walking on this little patch of earth I see the truth of ongoing rearrangement. We aren’t given the long view, except by imagination. But there is deep mystery here. The snow, the chickadees, the woodpeckers, the poplar, spruce, birch, the pine of the cabin, me, all in states of reconfiguration—exchanging, rearranging, matter, energy, within the mystery of time that runs forward by circles.

Which has me thinking about Sarah Slean again…enchantress but no siren, no fool, bold, bright, bewitching voice, willow-strong, thoughtful expositor of endless connections; a young abundantly talented artist, seemingly unoccupied by the artifice of the encumbered pop market, which makes an older heart happy and hopeful.


**A number of times over the course of her performance, Ms. Slean referred to the idea that we are (my paraphrase) a temporary configuration of an eternal rearrangement of subatomic quanta, the driving force of which is not Buddha, Allah, Jesus’ God, or even the pantheon of gods, but love. Speaking as a perennially convalescing Christian, what she may not have known is that John, the disciple of love, in his ecstatic letters can barely contain himself about his discovery/epiphany/revelation of the equation: God is love, Love equals God. So, saying that love is the driving force (creative force) of the ongoing rearrangement, is only restating what in my view is the essence of the gospel. Where we would disagree I suppose is in our view of time. Perennial cycles, by which I believe she means always existing, is something I can’t bring my (western) head to. That life is cyclical is apparent; and time viewed as strictly linear is not only a western invention, it has gotten us into a considerable mess. Still, even though talk of something like infinite progress is so much palaver, we do sense in our inner recesses a kind of creative call toward something (I recognize this is a faith statement). So the only way I can make sense of both apparent realities is to describe time as moving forward by circles.





  1. Steve, every time I begin to worry about your orthodoxy, you write something like this. As I was reading, I was thinking I have to remind Steve about “God is love”, when I read, “John, the disciple of love, in his ecstatic letters can barely contain himself about his discovery/ epiphany/ revelation of the equation: God is love, Love equals God”. to which I say Amen.

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