Caroline Bryer Levy ’08 M.Div.
B.A. Davidson College 2005
I spent the first twenty-two years of my religious life in a nearly frantic search for a place to call home. The daughter of a Jewish father and an Anabaptist mother, I was raised in a thriving Presbyterian church where I learned to love the Bible and the life of faith, but where I often felt confused as I struggled to find answers to questions that I hardly knew how to ask. I buried myself in books and the academic study of religion, hoping that in all of the historical criticism and biblical languages I would finally gain some clarity on what it meant to live as a Christian. I entered Davidson College preparing for a career in journalism and was surprised when the director of the Lilly program told me that I should consider seminary. I decided that, if I were to go to divinity school, it would need to be a place with both rigorous academics and a strong commitment to the Church; Yale quickly rose to the top of my list.
In the three years since I first stepped on campus, my life and my faith have been radically changed. For the first time I was surrounded by people who were also asking difficult questions and trying to figure out how to navigate all of the terrifying and wonderful things that a Christian life entails. I was challenged by my classmates to reexamine the religion that I entered YDS with; some elements of my faith withstood the scrutiny while others were replaced by more refined theological concepts. Perhaps most importantly, I learned that while historical criticism and biblical languages can teach many valuable things, it is not in hours of Hebrew study that one discovers the meaning of a Christian life. That lesson I learned not from books but rather through my interactions with the people I am lucky enough to consider friends and teachers, people who taught me that the love of Jesus is best demonstrated in the small things we do every day.
I hope to take these lessons with me next year when I begin my Clinical Pastoral Education residency at the University of Pennsylvania and start my life as a hospital chaplain. I am grateful for all that YDS has given me, and most of all that it is finally a place that I can call home.