I live in NJ but my heart and soul live on MV… and on MV they like to live here at the Tabernacle in the Campground . It is my favorite spot on the Island… an oasis of serenity and calmness in the middle of the Vineyard’s most bustling and lively town, Oak Bluffs. This magnificent iron structure was built in 1879… in 1979 was listed in the Natl Register of Historic Places… in 1999 a major restoration began which still continues… and in 2000 it became a project of Save America’s Treasures. Those are some of the facts of the building but not necessarily what constitutes the heart and soul of it.
Inside the Tabernacle is a banner that says “truly God resides in this place” and so he does. I am profoundly attached to the Tabernacle and must visit it every time I’m on MV whether it’s in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter… I just magnetically gravitate there, I have no choice.
The Tabernacle isn’t just for sermons… many things take place there, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School holds its graduation there every year for one thing. There are of course religious services held during the summer months. And concerts, what a magnificent setting for a concert… one that I particularly enjoyed was in 1990 with Harry Connick Jr and his special guest Carly Simon The concert was at 3 in the afternoon of a spectacular September Sunday afternoon. Cool breezes wafting through the Tabernacle… the buzz of anticipation in the audience… it was perfect. When Carly Simon came out the lights were turned off and the only illumination was the sun shining through the stained glass windows that encircle the top of the Tabernacle… it was magic… but that’s the Vineyard, magic does occur there all the time.
One of the best events of the summer is Illumination Night in the Camp Ground… it’s a magical fairy land and for me it’s hard not to become 8 years old again. The evening starts with a rousing community sing… the band plays… the whole Campground is alive with the sounds of happiness and joy. All the gingerbread houses are decorated with Japanese lanterns… many of them handed down from generation to generation and some still being lit by candles. Suddenly all lights are extinguished and the ceremonial first lantern is lit…. it’s walked up the aisle of the Tabernacle and illuminates it… as that happens all the gingerbread houses come alive with lanterns… it takes my breath away every time.
So there it is… a little bit about my favorite place on MV… I’ve tried to keep it short but don’t know if I succeeded or not… I do tend to get wordy where MV is concerned.