Thursday, August 13, 2009

More On LLoyd Saatjian

I didn't have many words at the time I heard of his death. I was however interviewed by Noozhawk, found here.

But, I wanted to share a little more about where I was quoted.

LLoyd always wanted to do a sermon titled, "It's Not About the Camels". I got a chance to preach much of that sermon last year, as I did a Christmas message.

Year after year First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara does a Live Nativity. And time and again, when asked why they came, people would respond, "To see the camels."

Many folks would come to LLoyd's office, just to see the array of camels. I can recall taking a few of the youth through the office one day, just because they had heard of this amazing, and extensive collection of camels, though they had never met LLoyd. LLoyd wasn't in, but I did a quick "pass-through" with the youth as they marvelled at the hundreds of camels in the office.

As a thank you to LLoyd, I gave him a rug with a camel design. This was as he was retiring and as I was leaving First UMC to take an appointment at Del Rosa UMC, in San Bernardino.

In each of these instances it really wasn't about the camels for LLoyd. In the case of the Live Nativity, LLoyd genuinely wanted to share the Christmas message with the community, and sometimes getting them there by hook or by crook (or by camel) meant that we could share the message of Jesus Christ in yet another venue. That was his aim. Listening to LLoyd when I asked about the camels, I immediately discovered it wasn't about the story of the camel and where it came from, and what kind it was, and how it was made, but instead the story of the person who gave it to him, and what they have done, and about how their lives had intersected. It really wasn't about the camels, but instead about the relationships it fostered. Rugs have been a passion of mine for many years, and LLoyd was kind enough to offer some nice words about the rugs I had. I shared some stories of the rugs, and when the time came to say "Thank You" at his retirement, I offered him a rug I had had commissioned. I did this out of the limelight, because I wanted him to hear the story, I wanted to be able to say thank you privately and I didn't want him to have to fawn over it in front of others if it wasn't genuine interest. The rug had a camel on it, but it was made in an area near where his ancestors came from in Armenia, was a reprint of a very famous rug from the region. It was a mistake as the copyists had done the numbers backwards in Armenian, and so there was humor in it in my eyes. I had asked the guys at the rug shop to do some extra work on it, taking some of the stitching out, and replacing it with "Saatjian" written in Armenian lettering. It wasn't about the camel, as much as it was a story of his heritage. Maybe just maybe he could find a way to work in a story of the Hodja with reference to the backwards writing of the dates, and the story would be a little more complete.

Thanks LLoyd.



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