WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Out of the Spiritual Fog

By Alex Haider-Winnett

“Grandma said it don't matter where we go to or come from;
She said, worry about what you're made to do, not what you're made of.
They say we're made of chaos. I say we're made of love
And that means our show starts now. Our show starts now.”
—Cloud Cult, “The Show Starts Now

These days, if I'm awake after midnight it's because I'm rocking my baby back to sleep. But before my baby, it was probably because I was at a rock show.

A couple of years ago, I went to see one of my favorite bands in San Francisco. As the band played, the audience formed a writhing mass of humanity, moving and singing together as one. After the show ended, my friends and I wandered out to the street. My eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness and there was a constant ringing in my ears. Eventually I noticed that because we were all drenched in sweat, and in the foggy night, there were great plumes of steam coming off the top of our heads. It brought to mind the Pentecost story from the Christian Bible (Acts 2:1-4), where the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and flames erupted from their heads and everyone was able to understand each other despite nationality or language.

So much of my life is lived from the neck up. I think about office jobs I've had; classes I've taken; the humdrum routine of everyday where my body is little more than a vehicle for my brain. How distant I feel from the Divine in those situations, when everything is on autopilot and I'm moving absently through life. And how I need moments to shock me out of that mental and spiritual fog.

Direct experience does not end at the neck. Direct experience of the Divine can't be merely conjured with the mind. It can be felt with our whole, beautiful, sacred bodies by clapping and singing and jumping up and down and crying and laughing and dancing.

That God is not a distant force, far away. God is in the beating of our hearts and the backbeat of a funky baseline. God is in a four-on-the-floor drum fill that makes us think I'm so glad I woke up today. God is in the achy joints and sore muscles the day after. God is visible in the steam coming off of sweaty bodies that danced and celebrated together at a rock show.


Let us be open to new and surprising ways the Divine moves through our lives. Let us worship in places usual and unusual. Let our bodies move as they may, animated by the loving force that unites all. May we be washed in tears, sweat, and rain and brought into a new world of freedom. Let the hymns we sing be both ancient and new. And may we find ways to regain our humanity through enjoying life together.

About the Author

Alex Haider-Winnett

Alex Haider-Winnett is a lifelong UU. He holds an M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion and serves as the Interim Director of Religious Education for the UU Church in Livermore (CA) and the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. He lives in Davis, CA and is a full-time dad and spouse....


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A crowd of concert-goers, in silhouette, against the bright colors and band on a stage.

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By DeReau K. Farrar

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Wanting to Break Free