The Heart Of The Wild with Terry Tempest Williams

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Williams tells the story of her initiation by the living land when she was 7 years old. While taking a school trip she ended up alone, in the dark, in Mount Timpanogos Cave. For a brief but powerful moment she felt the beating heart of the mountain. She says, “For the rest of my life I’ve been trying to retrieve that sacred space I felt inside that mountain alone. I have been searching for that moment when you’re part of something so old, so deep, so true.” Take a tour with Williams and find the relevance of our national parks in the 21st century and how these public commons might bring us back home to a united state of humility. It’s Terry Tempest Williams’ hope that we learn what it is to offer our reverence and respect to the closest thing we have to sacred lands. Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan stated that our American national parks are our best idea. Williams goes on to say, “And I would argue that they are our evolving idea; it’s never one story but many stories that are rooted in these American landscapes.” She reminds us that as we visit these public lands we can tune into a stillness that is outside of all the noise, distractions, and chaos in our everyday life. “They are places where we find a united state of humility . . . We are in this deeply fractured and divided country. I think if we could listen more to each other we would find a compassion that would surprise us.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, environmentalist, and award-winning author. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her work is widely taught and anthologized around the world. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. She currently is the writer in residence at Harvard Divinity School and divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Castle Valley, Utah.

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of many books including:

To learn more about the work of Terry Tempest Williams go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How Williams was initiated by the land when she was 7 years old in Mount Timpanogos Cave
  • How more than twenty Native American Tribes are joining together to protect over two million acres of sacred lands
  • How the coyotes and rainbows responded to medicine man Jonah Yellowman
  • How Williams was called by her ancestors at Acadia National Park in Maine
  • How deep listening is more than listening to words, it’s listening to the wind, the animals, the land itself
  • What a man from London found when he drove 8 hours to hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas
  • How National Parks help us to get in touch with what it means to be human in places with other species
  • How Tim DeChristopher became an eco-warrior and hero for the Southern Utah Wilderness
  • What Williams experienced when visiting ground zero at the Macondo Well of the BP oil spill
  • Williams shares her experience of being caught in the Trapper fire with her family at Glacier National Park
  • How the buffalo responded to Max Richter’s Recomposed: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons

Host: Justine Willis Toms       Interview Date: 6/11/2016       Program Number: 3587

Music Playlist

From Album: Beautiful Wasteland
Artist: Capercaillie
1998 Survival Records #RCD 10441

Opening Essay: Track 09 Kepplehall
Music Break 1:Track 01 M'Ionam
Music Break 2 Track 06 Co Ni Mire Rium
Music Break 3: Track 09 Kepplehall