The Upper Stories by Tara L. Jernigan

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The Upper Stories

Tara L. Jernigan on the Importance of Narrative in Christian Formation

My father had a special way of telling stories. Just as he never laughed at his own jokes, he never really offered to tell his stories. We always had to ask; he just primed the pump. Without looking at us, he would settle himself into his recliner. He would get comfortable, reclining back and putting his feet up. He'd light up his pipe and take a long draw from the tobacco. Only then would he ask the question, "Did I ever tell you about the time . . ."

It could be anything: the time he taught a dog to drive, the time he caught Santa Claus, the time he skipped school and got caught (and severely punished). More often than not, the stories would be about our ancestors, relics from the family tree—like my grandfather, who was an air-raid sergeant; or my grandmother, who was afraid to be at home without him during the raids; or my great-grandmother, who tried to shoot down an airplane; or my great-uncle, whose plane it was she was trying to shoot.

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Tara L. Jernigan is a vocational deacon in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the director of deacon formation for the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. She serves on the task force for Marriage, Family and the Single Life for the ACNA and as an adjunct instructor for Trinity School for Ministry. Tara and her husband have two sons at home and one in college.

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