Life lessons from “The Book of Juv”
By Randy Weeks
“Christianity ain’t all that hard. You just do the right thing, tell the truth and love people.”
Don’t go looking through your Bible for The Book of Juv. You won’t find it there. You won’t find it in the Apocrypha. You won’t find it in the Quran. You won’t find it in The Prophet. You won’t find it in The Tao. You won’t find it in the Sutras. You won’t find it in The Vedas. You won’t find it in the Torah. But, then again, you will.
Virgil Brawley was the author of “The Book of Juv.” It should be said that Juv rhymes with groove and is derived from one of Virgil’s early bands, The Juvenators. He was big in stature, big in blues and big in heart.
Virgil was not a simple man, but he lived a simple truth. He grew up loving horses and the blues, and excelled in his care of both. A highly-decorated Army sniper in the Vietnam War, Virgil came home to travel throughout the South with touring bands, temporarily settling down in Texas, where he owned a small ranch and raised horses.
A Brookhaven native, Virgil came back to Mississippi in 1996. That’s about the time I met him in Jackson. He married one of my dearest friends.
Eventually, they moved to Arkansas where Virgil unexpectedly passed away on June 22, 2018.
In addition to a loving wife, he had a grown son that was the light of his life.
As for friends, Virgil had scores of them. Untold scores. It’s been said that Virgil Brawley never met a stranger, which is probably true.
If you knew him you’ll understand.
Virgil practiced what he preached. He reached out to everyone he met with a warm handshake and a friendly smile.
Now, to be sure, Virgil didn’t suffer fools lightly. If you weren’t kind, caring and truthful, he’d just as soon not be around you. But he’d still put up with you – for a while.
Virgil’s truth was rooted in his Christian faith. The quote at the beginning of this column is, for the most part, Virgil’s way of saying, “Love God with all of your being, love other people the way you love yourself and treat them that way.”
That truth can be found at the heart of every single love-based faith.
Virgil was as human as they come, with all the flaws most of us have. He was as common as anyone else in that way. But he was uncommon in his level of devotion to doing the right thing and living life to the fullest. I think that as much as anything else, was what made him a big man. Many of us wish we had that spirit.
“The Book of Juv,” a collection of Virgil’s sayings, hasn’t been compiled and put in black and white – yet. I hope someday it will be. It will be plain, simple, honest and sometimes in-your-face. That was how Big Juv lived. Why? Because his faith was of ultimate importance to him.
Virgil Brawley didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. We should all be so real.
“Do you see what this means — all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!” (Hebrews 12:1, The Message)
Randy Weeks is a counselor and minister who lives and writes in Oxford. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.