LA C ASA DE MARIA
SeaVees Opens Funk Zone Store There is a solitude of space A solitude of sea A solitude of death, these Society shall be Compared with that profounder site That polar privacy A soul admitted to itself — Finite infinity. —Emily Dickinson
any of us may sense that we are afflicted with a basic deprivation. Through constraints of time and stress, we may find ourselves separated — as if by a glass wall — from nature, from others, and even from the silent enchantment of our own being. In our distraction, we may have forgotten how fundamentally nourishing silence is to our souls. We may even disparage the contemplative impulse as a commitment to an utterly impractical calling. With little sense of eternity, we cannot imagine ourselves wasting time on a retreat. Yet silence beckons when we gaze upon a loved one or a mountain until our concerns begin to vanish, our desires and ego thin to nothing, and our sense of where we end and our loved one or the mountain begins dissolves. Retreat centers are finite infinities, sites of both private and collective solitudes. They open to us our infinite, most intimate universe: our soul. They nourish our visions. They shelter the most intimate textures of inmost silence. They allow us to dream and transcend in peace. Their nooks and corners offer themselves as centers of simplicity in dwelling. Sequestered securely within their folds, we experience the primitiveness of refuge. We feel safe to open to pure Being. Amid the silence haunting oaken woods may await a chapel, a meditation cove, a yoga space, a teahouse. Here countless multitudes have gathered together in individual or centralized solitude. And if they tremble at all here, it is a shivering with Spirit. In recent years, the number of our shelters of infinity has become more finite. San Lorenzo relinquished its retreat center functions. As did the two St. Mary’s. Mount Calvary, alone, continues hosting seekers. La Casa de Maria is in the planning stage of its reemergence. These seemingly insignificant nooks and corners of our communities enhance all our lives. Even if we never visit them: unseen, they visit and protect us. For they have been there for whoever had been without hope. For whoever had lost everything. For whoever was overflowing with praise. For whoever
La Casa de Maria
sought to dialog authentically with others. For whoever was seeking a vision. For whoever had loved each other so dearly that they sought to be joined together in holy union. The tranquility of these sites proceeds from the peace souls have felt within themselves. An ancient yoga scripture observes that within the vicinity of a settled mind, hostile tendencies fall away. After all, in Nature, internally coherent systems repel incoherent influences. This is called the Meissner effect. The brain wave coherence of contemplatives produces a field effect. Brain wave coherence is also found in the EEG signatures of breastfeeding infants. This field extends beyond the contemplative just as a gravitational field extends beyond a planetary body. The field produces protective influences far outside the whole region. This wave of tranquility does not speak to us in the words of any particular creed. It speaks with us through silence. That silence is ourselves. Our very selves. Our souls. Silence bestows upon us a blessed distance from the demands of the world. Community leaders gain the ability to comprehensively weigh the whole of a situation and to discover the importance of what before had seemed but insignificant detail. Individual hearts cease to strive toward things. The world — suddenly and mysteriously before our wondering eyes — unveils its eternal enchantment. We begin again to view even the simplest of things with fresh vision. Contemplative silence transcends thought, allowing us to dwell outside time and space and think outside the box. This is how in the 1980s Michael Murphy’s Esalen Institute was able to accomplish what two nations’ politicians, spies, think tanks, and well-wishers could not: to get Soviets and Americans talking and relating to one another and to achieve the first strategic nuclear arms reduction accord. Silence harmonizes thinking with the environment’s maximally evolutionary needs. Thus, the contemplative impulse is for action. For a heart given to timeless contemplation, the urgent demands of time begin to deepen and enliven silence, so that silence and activity, timelessness and time, begin to bow toward each other, to lose their boundaries, and to blend together into one evolutionary impulse of being. Our community would do well to support our remaining retreats, which provide sacred spaces to protect and nourish our deepest souls. Even thinking just of ourselves, we find that in these sheltered niches resides our own highest good. — James N. Powell
James N. Powell, who holds a master’s degree in religious studies from UCSB, is currently editing a translation of a Kashmiri treatise on meditation. See modeindigo.org.
ack in 2011, Steven Tiller relaunched a long-dormant brand of sneaker called SeaVees, a piece of Americana fashion that found new life through retailers around the world and the company’s online shop. SeaVees started churning out batches of shoes at a boutique factory in Asia and was holding down a small corporate presence on Ortega Street, but Tiller — a veteran footwear designer with stints at Cole Haan, Sperry Top-Siders, and Keds — itched for a Santa Barbara storefront. He and his team of 35 local employees SeaVees CEO Steven Tiller have finally made it happen. “Opening up a flagship store has always been a dream of mine,” said Tiller, “a place that embodies all things SeaVees. The right space presented itself in the heart of the Funk Zone, and 24 East Mason came to life.” Alongside the brand’s full array of men’s, women’s, and kids’ shoes ranging from $68 to $178, the place sells an assortment of SoCal merch, including Apolis tote bags, Camp Collection T-shirts, and OP shorts. With a tin roof and polished concrete floor, it has that carefully curated but easy-breezy beach feel, complete with longboards along one wall. We recently chatted with Tiller by email. How do you start designing a pair of shoes? Where do you draw your inspiration? I draw inspiration from our heritage—looking back at the original SeaVees ads from the 1960s is a regular touch point for me. We are extremely passionate about the multiple benefits of an authentic vulcanized sneaker, from the obvious greater durability to the magical little nuances that happen in the oven. We focus on being both classic and contemporary with a reverence for 1960s California cool. What styles do you personally like to wear? What’s on your feet right now? I love them all, but you will most often find me in the Legend—the silhouette featured in the original SeaVees ad campaigns from 1964. Currently I’m wearing the Legend Sneaker Cordies in Red Ochre. If you had to pick a pair that best encapsulates Santa Barbara, what would it be? The Baja—an easy, coastal, everyday shoe in men’s and women’s that evokes casual, California living.
Any new stuff you’re excited about? We recently launched our fall/winter collection, which is now available at 24 Mason and online. Coming soon we have: • Liberty: Five of our favorite styles made with two 1960s archival prints from Liberty™ Fabrics in their premium ribbed cotton. • Goodlife: A collection of Goodlife terrycloth and our hairy suede in an assortment of new colors. • Mariner Boots: A reissue of a style known as “swim shoes” or “coral creepers” by Naval sea cadets during the era. • Slippers x Huckberry: Available in three felted wool colors, and inspired by the Time Magazine 1967 cover story featuring the original playboy, Hugh Hefner, and the blurring of the boundary between work and pleasure. —Tyler Hayden
AUGUST 29, 2019
August 29, 2019, Vol. 33, No. 711