Joanna's Story

Dancing like everyone is watching

24 Joanna web

2020 has forced us all to find new routines. When lockdown began in March, I returned to the family home to shield alongside my sister, Joanna, who has Down’s Syndrome. Not only did Joanna have to contend with her sister returning home (which I don’t think she minded too much!) but all her weekly activities and social events suddenly stopped. Routine is important to Joanna, and one of the most significant things which was put on hold was church. Every Sunday, dressed in one of her favourite frocks, Joanna was used to meeting her friends, preparing the altar for communion and trying out her latest dance moves during the hymns.

So, to give Joanna a continued sense of this routine we began ‘family church’. Every Saturday evening or Sunday morning Joanna picks out her best dress, sets out the table and chairs and prepares candles and other symbols for the service. She helps mum tell Bible stories with props, she signs her favourite hymns or songs (we may have sung Bring me Sunshine once or twice!) and she always lights a candle for Cathy, her friend from church, when we pray. To top it all off, she dances to the hymns with the same verve and enthusiasm as if she had a whole church congregation watching.

I have found sharing these small, routine acts of worship with Joanna this year very moving. Her genuine expressions of joy and love through her actions, prayers and dance has helped me feel more of the joy and love of God in my everyday activities, however small or routine.

Joanna and her sister Frances – who wrote this reflection – live in the North East. Joanna goes to an ecumenical Church of England, Methodist and URC church. Joanna and Frances enjoy playing football on the beach, baking and watching their favourite movie musicals together.