The Church of Hot Pot
How a trip to Hot Pot brought me closer to the Divine
On the evening of December 19th, 2022, I joined my best friend, her sister, and my brother at a hot pot restaurant nearby our hometown. For those unfamiliar with hot pot, it is “a cooking method that originated in China. A heat source on the dining table keeps a pot of soup stock simmering, and a variety of Chinese food and ingredients are served beside the pot for the diners to put into the hot stock.”
None of this was a first for us, but every single time we go it feels special. Each time you visit a hot pot restaurant, you choose your pastas, meats, seafoods, and vegetables as a collective. Moments later, ingredients are served to your table…raw. Yes, raw. At hot pot, you choose your ingredients, throw them in your (VERY) hot pot, and you wait until it cooks before serving it to one and all.
Why is this so special, though?
It is special because of the community it creates. Every moment of hot pot is done as a collective.
“Can you pass the chicken”
“Can I use the spinach”
“Do you need more broth?”
“Can I borrow the tongs?”
“Do we want shrimp?”
“Can I try your concoction?”
“You can have my udon.”
From my experience, there is no way to do hot pot as an individual. It begs for community. It requires the collective desire to create food with one another. It gives us a reason to share with one another. It reminds us that nothing in this world is ours alone but is under the care of each and every one of us. It reminds us that the way to reaching hope, love, joy, and peace comes from out commitment to one another.
“Hot pot reminded me that God is incarnate through the collective effort of humanity to live in harmony with one another.”
At hot pot, I arguably found as much, if not more community building in the hour I was there than the hour I spend at church on Sunday mornings. It actually reminded me of church. It reminded me that the Divine is most understood embodied in the people around me. It reminded me that God is only made knowable and made tangible through the creation around us. Hot pot reminded me that God is incarnate through the collective effort of humanity to live in harmony with one another. When I do something like hot pot, I experience a seemingly divine encounter.
This hot pot experience was relatively expensive, so it isn’t for everyone. But you don’t have to do hot pot to experience what I did, though. You just have to get some kin folks together, cook some food together, and find ways to share with one another the goodness of life. It is cathartic and I personally think it's the closest thing to the Divine that I have reached in life thus far.
Praise God. Amen.