Milwaukee Edition

The Heart of the Wild Reveals Our Spiritual Life

Excerpts from “America’s National Parks” from The Hour of Land

Gail Johnson/Shutterstock.com

It was standing inside Timpanogos Cave (a national monument) as an 8-year-old child that marked me. Hiking to the entrance of the cave with our church group, we were ushered in by a park ranger. Immediately, the cool air locked inside the mountain enveloped us and we wore it as loose clothing. Immense stalactites and stalagmites hung down from the ceiling and rose up from the floor, declaring themselves teeth. We were inside the gaping mouth of an animal and we were careful not to disturb the beast, traversing the cave on a narrow constructed walkway above the floor so as not to disturb its fragility. But it was the Great Heart of Timpanogos Cave that captured my attention.

When everyone else left the charismatic form, I stayed. I needed more time to be closer to it, to watch its red-orange aura pulsating in the cavernous space of shadows. I wanted to touch the heart, run the palms of my hands on its side, believing that if I did, I could better understand my own heart, which was invisible to me. I was only inches away, wondering whether it would be cold or hot to the touch. It looked like ice, but it registered as fire.

Suddenly, I heard the heavy door slam and darkness clamp down. The group left without me. I was forgotten—alone—locked inside the cave. I waved my hand in front of my face. Nothing. I was held in a darkness so deep that my eyes seemed shut even though they were open. All I could hear was the sound of water dripping and the beating heart of the mountain.

I learned early on we live by wild mercy.

I don’t know how long I stood inside Timpanogos Cave before our church leader realized I was missing, but it was long enough to have experienced how fear moves out of panic toward wonder. Inside the cave, I knew I would be found. What I didn’t know was what would find me—the spirit of Timpanogos.

To this day, my spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild. I do not fear it, I court it. When I am away, I anticipate my return, needing to touch stone, rock, water, the trunks of trees, the sway of grasses, the barbs of a feather, the fur left behind by a shedding bison.

Wallace Stegner, a mentor of mine, wrote: “If we preserved as parks only those places that have no economic possibilities, we would have no parks. And in the decades to come, it will not be only the buffalo and the trumpeter swan that need sanctuaries. Our own species is going to need them, too. It needs them now.”


Excerpts from The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams, reprinted with permission. Learn more at CoyoteClan.com/index.html.


This article appears in the April 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

School of Sound and Healing Names New Co-Education Director

Music therapist and sound teacher Kathryn Rambo was named co-education director for the School of Sound and Healing, at Angel Light.

New Classes Begin in October at Sacred Sound Yoga

Starting the week of October 15, Sacred Sound Yoga will offer several classes that blend the healing power of yoga with sound.

Out of the Darkness Community Walk for Suicide Prevention

The Wisconsin chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will hold the annual Milwaukee Out of the Darkness community walk on Sunday, October 14, at Humboldt Park in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.

Explore Healthy Horizons at the Wellness Body, Mind, & Spirit Expo

Those seeking the latest approaches to natural wellness can explore 40 eclectic exhibits, demonstrations and presentations in holistic and alternative health at the Wellness Body, Mind & Spirit Expo.

Book Launch and Psychic Fair Celebrates Life and Love

Author Susan Lukas will release her new book, Abiding Flame, at a book launch and psychic fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Sunday, October 7, at New Berlin Ale House.

Fall Reiki Specials Can Help Facilitate Positive Change

During October and November, Cindy Carlson Reiki and Energy Healing is offering a special $45 one-hour reiki session.

Shorewood Health & Wellness Open Doors Event

Health & Wellness Open Doors takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 13, in the Shorewood Business District along Oakland Avenue and Capitol Drive.

Building Personalized 
Connections After Breast 
Cancer Diagnosis

Since 1999, Milwaukee-based After Breast Cancer Diagnosis has offered comfort and encouragement through a nationwide network of mentors.

Ananda Healing Collective to Celebrate New Name, Mission

Ananda Acupuncture & Healing Center is rebranding as Ananda Healing Collective and will focus on divine feminine healing and collaborative energy within their clinic.

Letter from Publisher

“Game Changers,” one of Natural Awakenings’ themes for October, focuses on the youth of our nation taking the reins to make a difference in social and environmental areas.

Healing Our Kids

An estimated quarter to half of American children have a diagnosed chronic condition such as autism or allergies, but an integrative approach to healing can have profound effects.

Farewell to a Beloved Pet

Innovative options now exist that honor a pet’s remains in an earth-friendly, biodegradable fashion using alkaline water, seeded pods or a manmade ocean reef.

Add your comment: