They offer tea and the privacy to wander through a labyrinth of enchanted rooms that feel more like a spiritual retreat or spa than a place of business. The air is filled with music, visual stimula and floral scents that make you take a deep breath and exhale. The goal is to offer a respite from the hectic world and an experience.
At every turn, a surprise awaits with a variety of goods from Tibet, Bali, Java, Thailand, Nepal, India, Indonesia and China. The attention to detail given to the various vignettes in The Sacred Space's 1940s, 2,000-square-foot adobe — all having to do with either spiritual growth or personal awakening — is breathtaking.
Outside, the same harmony and tranquility are felt, although on a much larger scale. Statuary, new and ancient, urns and fountains look perfectly at home amid the tropical foliage, lily pond and waterfalls that are artfully arranged to encourage serenity and space to decompress. A small, covered seated area has been built for guest lectures and book signings, and a pavilion next to a lily pond contains a comfortable sofa on which to sit and relax and write your impressions in a well-worn journal.
While inside The Sacred Space, it's hard to believe you're on the corner of Lillie and Greenwell avenues in one of California’s quaintest old beach towns. While neighboring upscale Montecito is just two exits west, Summerland is still an eclectic architectural mix of small and funky shops.
It may be one street long but you can park your car and visit them all on foot. Botanik, Amelia Jane, Just Folk Art Museum, Bonita, Summerland Winery, Pine Trader Antiques, Rue de Lillie Antiques & Interiors, the Summerland Antique Collective, Summerhill Antiques, House 849, Mary Suding Antiques, Waxing Poetic, Indian Summers Boutique, The Bikini Factory, Patricia Noel Studio, Cashmir Beauty Lounge, Shear Design, Montecito Urban Farms, World Rug Collection and Forged Lighting.
Summerland also boasts Platinum Fitness, Beach Club Athletics, Your Pals Pet Hospital, a noisy exotic bird shop Menagerie, a Carpinteria-Summerland fire station, Summerland Presbyterian Church, B&Bs, Cantwell's Market & Deli, Sandpiper Liquor and a gas station. Summerland School rounds off the quaint neighborhood services.
Sprinkled among those destinations are favorite eating spots, including Stacky’s Seaside, The Nugget, Café Luna, Tinker's and the dog- and WiFi-friendly Summerland Beach Café. Dress code: board shorts, flip flops and a T-shirt are all that is required to get a table.
With a park (Lookout Park) and Summerland Beach just steps away, the big blue ocean is ever present and adds to the views from all retail establishments. The soulful, small-town vibe that is reminiscent of many California beach towns in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s before they grew up is still present and well-preserved.
Winfrey, one of 93108’s highest-profile residents, was accompanied by her friend, Maria Shriver (who was recommended by her friend, Sheryl Lowe), and found herself drawn to a book displayed on a decorative “altar” that happened to be written by the Herschorns' family friend, Canadian performing artist Ann Mortifee, In Love with the Mystery. The Sacred Space was the only place in the United States selling the book and Winfrey purchased a copy.
Many years ago, Mortifee, who is married to music legend Paul Horn, began a practice of waking each morning at sunrise. During those quiet hours, she developed a fertile stillness that led to an ever-deepening awareness. From the evocative and inspiring messages, In Love with the Mystery emerged. National publishers have now pursued her, and this will be a national book with global distribution by Ingram Content Group.
Recently featured in the November issue of Winfrey's O magazine, she delivers a heartfelt message on the last page.
"I am beguiled by the mystery of life," she writes. "As a matter of a fact, on my nightstand, I keep a book called In Love with the Mystery written by Ann Mortifee. It is full of tranquil photographs and bite-sized reminders of the preciousness of the journey we are all on. Our main job in life is to align with the energy that is the Source of all energies, and to keep our frequency tuned to the energy of love.
"This I know for sure. When that is your life’s work, mystery solved — or at least, the mystery no longer mystifies you. It only heightens the rapture, reverence and grace.”
The Herschorns — Montecito residents for the past 21 years and parents of two grown children, David and Lauren — say they are amazed at who wanders into their little corner of the world and the connections they've made from all corners of the globe. Notable visitors and customers have included everyone from Zen master Bernie Glassman, Australian feng shui master Gayle Atherton, Eckhart Tolle, Jeff Bridges, Jada Pinkett Smith and daughter Willow, Inga and Jack Canfield, Jonathan Winters, Eric Burdon, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Kenny Loggins, Kate Somerville, Maria Shriver, Sheryl Lowe and Oprah Winfrey. But The Sacred Space is everyone’s space, and all walks of life are welcome and given the same service and respect.
On a recent afternoon, the Herschorns and I shared a pot of tea under their pavilion.
"We appreciate and respect women like Ms. Winfrey, Ms. Shriver and Mrs. Lowe," they agreed. "We feel they are women with true personal growth and vision that we can all see being actualized.
"Oprah Winfrey is a great role model with a true heartfelt vision for a better society and planet. Her simple recognition of us helps us help more people because of her believability and transparency.”
Whether you believe in karma or two degrees of separation, The Sacred Space is a combination of the Herschorns' hearts, creativity and life skills. It is the finest expression of personal growth interest. Their shop is their message. ‘
"We buy items of meaning, things which have soul to us,” Herschorn said. "Rose and I don’t believe in miracles — we depend on them."