Letters to the Planet

This Great Idea came from EcoFaith Summit 2024, where participants were invited to write letters to whomever they wanted as a way to process their grief, share their hopes, and invite engagement around the climate crisis.

EcoFaith Summit 2024: Cross+Currents in the Flood: Building Arcs Together for a More Livable Planet was based on keynote speaker, Larry Rasmussen’s book, The Planet You Inherit: Letters to My Grandchildren When Uncertainty’s a Sure Thing (Broadleaf). Our theme and intent was to create spaces where ‘arcs’ could be built: between identities, generations, ideologies, abilities, etc.

Nibi Walker, Sharon Day, led a workshop of Writing Letters to My Body of Water, inviting people to write to the body of water closest to their hearts. These letters were a sign of love, a form of prayer, a vow of commitment to care for the water(s) we love, every day. This is one beautiful and powerful approach to Letters to the Planet: let them focus on a particular part of nature in your context with particular feelings and commitments flowing into the letters.

In worship, we invited everyone to write – on soluble paper – a brief summation of their concerns for creation – where they see ‘toxic clouds’ looming – and encouraged them to consider action steps to mitigating those clouds. We offered those concerns to God by dissolving them in the baptismal font. This is another form of Letters to the Planet: writing that can enhance our spiritual connection to creation and develop bonds within the worshiping community.

To provide everyone in attendance a space to process what they were experiencing, learning, fearing, and hoping, we created a table – with beautiful notecards – where people could write a letter to a person, institution, God, or recipient of their choice. They were encouraged to mail or deliver the letter to its recipient, or leave it for others at the Summit to read. Most people took their cards to write later. (I still have mine!)

One person left their letter:

As people struggle with mental health issues directly related to the climate crisis, divisiveness, stagnation, and more, Letters to the Planet might be one small way to help folx process their inner struggles.

An open letter-writing station – available at any time and every time the congregation gathers for learning, worship, or justice work – allows people the healthy outlet of journaling, writing their thoughts and feelings, and potentially sharing them with others to ensure they are heard.

Invite children or artists to create note cards. Provide envelopes. You might even provide stamps.

Share a simple prompt on the table, inviting folx to reflect on a particularly beloved part of creation, a particular issue pertinent to your context and time, or a general invitation to reflect on whatever is demanding their attention.

Letters left behind should be shared with pastoral care staff or counselors – whether signed or anonymous: these will help care givers better understand peoples’ concerns. It might also help leaders determine action steps for congregational engagement.

Mostly, though, the letters are an opportunity for people to say what they feel and let their fears and hopes get out of their brain and heart into the world. This is part of healthy processing and may lead to greater communal health as individuals read and learn and develop emotional awareness together.