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Poems and Pictures for Brother Camillus Chavez AKA Bad Ass Dude from Dogtown 2023

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Rest in Peace and Meditative Power Brother

(1929-2023)






Where you been Joe?


The cars all left the campus lined up

in the single file line that follows a

casket in a Cadillac.


I begged off the process; I wondered

if he knew I was not there. I just rode

BART home alone.


The photographs sent around showed

the throng of souls seeing a good soul

buried into the ground.


I did not want to see the finality of it

all. Some departures are harder to

accept than others.


Seeing the casket lowered and the

shovels of soil foisted down upon

casket wooden crown,


Meant saying fare well and finality.

A sendoff I was not yet willing

to acknowledge or make.


Now one month past, I walk alone

to the still fresh unmarked grave site

to pay overdue respect.


A walk up from the Chapel at Mount

La Salle was lined with shade trees

and the stations of the cross.


The stations created a meditation on

the uphill trek. In life, all carry heavy

crosses and heal scars.


Brother Camillus was a blessed teacher

who helped us with the burdens in our

youth with gentle love.


Upon reaching the graveyard the verdant

Beauty; the blue sky created a meadow

of dedication and love.


On the green grass hillside where all the head-

stones extoll the lives of those whose bodies

rest in a peace well-earned,


Rested a single bird feather as If Brother

was guiding my path with a simple

hello from his heavenly perch.


As my steps searched for his grave, I felt

a light breeze cooling the noon day sun.

A respite from above.


The mystics came into my thoughts as I

danced among the holy souls. A reverie

of prayer and song.


Camilo’s voice played aloud as I meditated

to his voice coming from my phone. He

was alive and I was calmed.


When his lesson reached its counting back

to the present time, I heard him loud

and clear, “Where you been Joe?”


The majestic towering trees brushed by

a flowing breeze, and the blue sky above

an ocean of heavenly peace.


Never a good-bye to be as the visit made

clear. If I miss him, I simply have to pray

and he will be there again.


Brother's Final Blessing


We could never leave his side without a

blessing to guide our steps through

life.


So when I asked for a blessing before

I left his bedside, he gathered strength

again.


And let you be blessed forever more and

if life throws you aside, ask to be blessed

again.




Then he wasn’t


Many moments have come and gone.

The spring flowers have wilted.

Drought is over but the yellow

grass still begs for water.


I heard him near the gated fence.

“Look at how the flowers are

lasting this year. Let me stay

until they are no more.”


Time out of mind the embarkation

for the passage but nothing can

secure the farewell if rose petals

are still blooming.


Vineyard trellises, like loose rope

artfully scattered, loop around the

undulating hills, his eyes holding

them joyfully close.


There is a church and there is a

steeple but greater still is the

bounty of God’s wonderous

evergreen creations.


“Let me breath it all in just once

more. Let me leave you just as

the summer starts. Have them

play mariachi at dawn.”


Then he wasn’t. I heard you say,

“I still feel him. If I can feel him

he remains alive.” And the breeze

played a lullaby.


Requiem for a brother


There is a glow, mystic and everlasting,

surrounding the spirit of the ones God

has chosen.


From the first time a prayer was said in

his catechism class he knew he’d found

his destiny.


Oh, dear brother, are you in the Bardo? Or

has God hurried you to the place of saints,

the divine?


While others prepared for a life of ambition

and material wealth, you prepared for a

life of poverty.


Oh, dear brother, when did you first see

that all that shines is not gold and that

prayer matters.


Taking your vows and evolving from Tony

to Camillus, you became a teacher, mentor,

loving brother.


Oh, dear brother, can you prophesize my

future? Why can you see what I cannot

yet dream?


You became a steward of the children in

your care, teaching, coaching, setting

goals to be met.


Oh, dear brother, how can you believe in

me more than I believe in myself? Why

me, brother?


Meditation and prayer: the two gifts that

underpinned every lesson. Patience and

quiet power.


Oh, dear brother, how my breath has

taken me to my soul! How I see when

the noise stops.


A lifetime of ninety-three years giving

you the time to do so much good in

this world.


Oh, dear brother, I will hear your words

forever. I will hold you in my heart each

day and hour.


Father, son, and holy spirit. Lead our

beloved brother into the waiting arms of

our Holy Mother.


Oh, dear brother, you gave us your peace

and now we honor you with the peace you

loving gave.


In the name of the Father, the Son, and

The Holy Spirit. Now and forever and

ever more.


The passing path: A meditation on Brother Camillus and Saint John of the Cross


Face taut with the pace of the passing.

each step a penitential sacrifice, as if his

life of service not enough.


Not enough for the moment when his

soul would reunite with his birthing

God, more was needed.


Saint John of the Cross weaved the union

of the soul and God into the mysticism and

culmination of a dark night.


Eyes walking the stations of the cross, his

asking for water to be brought to his lips,

an exhausted fall from grace.


They come to help him along. Their touch

and voices picking up his cross as he falls

into the slumber of saints.


“You will walk this path,” he said in a voice

trembling as strength wanes and the soul

emboldens for steps ahead.


Mystics prayed, wrote canticles and poems,

sharing the story of a soul returning to the

glory of being whole.


Ascent to Mount Carmel is the map, Living

Flame of Love is the respite of love, making

the dark night bright.


Oh, dear brother on the passing path, as

your soul ascends to its heavenly reward

may the mystical words guide.


Upon the flowery breast

Which I kept whole for

Himself alone


There he stayed sleeping

and I was caressing

him,


And the fanning of the

cedars made a breeze.


The breeze from the

Turret


While I was parting his locks

With his gentle hand He was

Wounding my neck and

Causing all my senses to be

Suspended


I remained myself and forgot

myself. My face reclined on the

lover.


All ceased and I abandoned myself.

Leaving my concern forgotten among

the lilies.


You dark night of the soul shall be

Illuminated soon. The passing path

shall lead to an open gate.



Follow the light: For Brother Camillus Chavez, teacher, mentor, seer.


Next to his bedside were the photos of the

two or three who had in the end been

the reason he lived as he did.


As the light calls and peace is made with

present time--no more appointments,

nothing left to fix or do--


he remembers when loyalty to oath was

tested, when he thought the temptation

too hard to hold off or fight,


and the resolve kept in the lock box of his

soul unlocked itself and reminded of the

faith supporting him this far


and then the light shone on his soul and

taking the weight of its desire to stay

welcomed him to waiting gates.




Something I saw


I saw the steps he took so often. A child left on

his door step, not abandoned, but sent to

become a dream unknown far from home.


I saw how he took fear and fluffed it up and

turned it inside out and seeded the cloud

of confidence the child would become.


I saw how he took doubt and questioned its

ungodly power through a faith practiced

on his knees in prayers for hours.


I saw how he lived a life of patience and calm,

teaching others how to tackle chaotic life with

breathes of healing meditative power.


I saw the yearlings he coached, coaxed, and

encouraged to become the adults who could

take his life lesson to many others.


I saw as he faced the all that befell him, death

included, strapping on his humble armor

to repent as his father called.


I will not see the gates of heaven open to

welcome this saint among us, but I saw

enough to know he will be there.

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