The land grew green and the hills began to roll as I approached the Heart. The girls-only summer camp was drawing me to itself yet again – an irresistible force, a lodestone. Two summers had passed since I last walked beside the waters of the Guadalupe. My mother was a camper at the Heart every summer growing up. Her picture hangs on the wall among other recipients of the esteemed Jo Jones award, which recognizes one virtuous girl from each month-long term. Hers is the first color photograph: Lisa Renshaw, First Term 1977.
Years later, I attended a two-week-long term as a self-conscious fourth-grader, "home" on furlough in the States, but missing my true home in Thailand.
More years passed and the Heart called again. This time, I returned as an anxious high school graduate facing the transition to college. After a childhood in Thailand, Texas seemed foreign. But as I walked the vaguely familiar grounds and gazed at yearbook photos of my girlish mother, I discovered my heritage buried deep in the heart of Texas.
Later summers held different adventures, but after two years, the Heart called again. And I came running, but this time only for a visit.
I drank it in with all my senses, finding photography alone inadequate, and learned again to touch, smell and listen:
Waking up to soft steps squeaking across the wooden floor.
A mug of hot berry tea and the whirr of hummingbirds at the feeder.
Wind through trees.
The soft trickle-splash of green Guadalupe sliding coolly between my toes.
Scents carried on the wind: warm earth, sweet mint and sharp cypress sap.
Camp songs at every meal.
The coo of doves.
The Heart is by no means a perfect place. Like any collection of people, it falls short of glory. Even the Heart is broken.
But still it draws me – an irresistible force, a lodestone. The faintest glimmer of glory.