“Valentine’s Day”: a BBC Pause for Thought

Here’s the text for the 15 February 2022 “Pause for Thought” I offered on the Early Breakfast Show with Katie Piper on BBC Radio 2. Listen in here.


I was dancing with my husband at our wedding reception, which we held in a street-front shop in a busy city neighbourhood. We didn’t have much money, but we splurged on the band and it was totally worth it. All night long the music was pumping, the dance floor  packed with our friends and family.

It was during a cover of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, that I looked over the crowd and noticed two guys dancing together who I didn’t recognize. I said to Jonathan, “Do you know who they are?”

“No idea,” he said.

I thought maybe they were the dates of friends, but then again I was pretty sure I’d met everyone’s plus-one by that point. So I sort of danced us over to them and said “Hey, guys”. They smiled and waved.

I said, “Welcome to our wedding! Umm … Who are you?!”

They said, “Oh my gosh, you won’t believe this: we were walking outside looking for somewhere to eat, and we thought this place was a restaurant, so we came inside. A woman beckoned us in, we assumed she was one of the waitstaff, and we asked for a table for two. She laughed and told us it wasn’t a restaurant, it was a wedding party, but we should stay, have a glass of wine, some food, maybe even get out on the dance floor. So we did!”

I was internally processing this, wondering how much of my cake and booze they’d consumed for free, when Mary Lee, my brother-in-law’s mother, danced on over. She said, “Oh I’m so glad y’all met. Trey and Jonathan, these guys seemed like they needed a party, so I told them to come on in, there’s room for ‘em here.” She danced away into the crowd.

There’s a Bible story where – at a wedding party, maybe right next to the dance floor – Jesus transforms hundreds of litres of water into top-shelf wine. He does this, the story says, to show how extravagant God is – how God’s love overflows our stereotypes of God, how God expands our understanding of what love actually is.

At my wedding, Mary Lee stood in for Jesus and reminded me of that – of a divine love not just between me and Jonathan but pouring over to the wedding crashers, to Whitney Houston, and to everybody dancing anywhere – married, breaking up, searching, happily single, partnered, divorced ­– all of us, I believe, recipients of the extravagance of God.

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