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Gift of Hope

Protected land gives me hope in a world full of fear. Whether we fear economic collapse or climate change, whether we fear acts of terror, or the spread of a virus, whether our fears are real or imagined, fear is amplified by our culture, bouncing off every screen. In the face of this fear, we often shut down, tune out, and enter a downward spiral of “overwhelm” and inaction. It can feel helpless and hopeless.

There is a way out of this fear and this downward spiral: it’s outside—outside of doors and outside of culture, amongst the trees, the rocks, the open sky. Here, the sound of lapping waves calms anxieties. A drifting cloud stills the chattering mind. The smell of a fog-touched morning unfurrows the brow. We experience beauty and grace, and feel what a gift it is to be alive. In nature, we find an antidote to fear and the birthplace of hope.

When my grandmother Peggy Rockefeller cofounded Maine Coast Heritage Trust in 1970, she did so out of hope, with vision and optimism. I would venture to guess that my grandmother owed at least some of that hope to the land itself—to the quiet anchorages and pink granite that soothed her soul, to the coastal waters and pristine islands that calmed her mind.

Receiving this gift of hope from the land, she, in turn, shared it. Together with Tom Cabot, she created a pioneering organization with a mission to protect land, giving countless individuals the chance to lose themselves in evergreens and find themselves in the song of a hermit thrush. So many benefit from this vision, and what it has become—over 150,000 acres of land forever conserved, including more than 300 islands.

In these protected places, we can walk into the woods with our heads like a swarm of anxious bees: full of anger, frustration and worry. We can walk out of the woods with our minds like clear water: peaceful, calm, at ease.

We can walk out of the woods with the strength—the hope, vision, and optimism—to take a step forward in this wild world. To do whatever it is we’re called to do to make the world a better place.

What a gift to give oneself and to give others: a gift of hope.

Protected land gives me hope in a world full of fear.

Rebecca Rockefeller Lambert is an artist, philanthropist, and the mother of two young children. She has a master’s degree in environment and natural resources and a background in climate and energy planning. She guides retreats for environmentalists and others, reconnecting participants with nature and their love for the land.


This piece is part of Voices from the Coast, a collection of writing, art, stories, and images offered in celebration of the Maine coast and launched in 2020, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s 50th year.

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