Further Creation Gifts from Emily Dickinson

Meister Eckhart, upending centuries of neo-platonic tainted dualistic religious teaching, said simply, “nature is grace.”  His brother Thomas Aquinas, said, “The greatness of the human person consists in this–that we are capable of the universe.” 

(L) Cortical neuron and neuronal stem cells. Image by GerryShaw on Wikimedia Commons. (R) A filament of the Milky Way galaxy called G49. Image by ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Ke Wang et al. on NASA.gov.

So too, Dickinson’s sense of the sacredness of nature extends to the holy marriage of psyche and cosmos.  In this powerful poem she celebrates both. 

The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
The Brain is deeper than the sea—
For—hold them—Blue to Blue—
The one the other will absorb—
As Sponges—Buckets—do—
The Brain is just the weight of God—
For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—
And they will differ—if they do—
As Syllable from Sound—

Here she is acclaiming the cosmos and our capacity to relate to it along with the likeness between the human and Divinity—our consciousness (what she liked to call “circumference”) approaches that of God, being only slightly different, “as syllable is from sound”.  

Dickinson, like Walt Whitman and many intellectuals of her day, was indebted to the important book Cosmos by Prussian scientist and explorer of South America, Alexander von Humboldt. 

One can only imagine how excited she would be to hear the new discoveries of the universe from today’s science and to praise the universe and its 13.8 billions years of creativity and expansion. 

The Duddo Five Stones of Northumberland, England, placed about 4000 years ago, with Mars at perihelion at sunset. Image Credit & Copyright: Ged Kivlehan on NASA.gov.

In another poem she speaks again of the “bashful” relationship between heaven and earth, Divinity and us.

….Heaven is shy of Earth—that’s all—
Bashful Heaven—thy Lovers small—
Hide—too—from thee—

Years ago the great Biblical scholar Kris Stendahl attended a workshop I was conducting on the “Cosmic Christ” and he approached me afterwards and said to me, “every time one sees the word basileia (Kingdom) in the New Testament, one has the right to translate it as creation.” 

Emily Dickinson knew this in the mid nineteenth century.  She knew it as all mystics know it, from her experience.

Feminist theology

Dickinson talks of God as “Mother” or “Mama” as in this passage in which she retranslates a familiar Gospel text to embrace the Divine Feminine.

A mother bird teaches her fledglings how to fly. Uploaded to YouTube by PKcoach PS4.

Mama never forgets her birds,
Though in another tree—
She looks down just as often
And just as tenderly
As when her little mortal nest
With cunning care she wove—
If either of her ‘sparrows’ fall,
She ‘notices,’ above.

She continues her critique of the fall/redemption, patriarchal and judgment-oriented Christianity that proposes a Peeping Tom sort of Divinity which she sees all around her in a poem where she tells us: “I don’t like Paradise–/Because it’s Sunday –all the time—”. 

Patriarchal anticipation for judgment day. Photo by Jonathan Lidbeck on Flickr.


If God could make a visit—
Or ever took a Nap—
So not to see us—but they say
Himself—a Telescope
Perennial beholds us—
Myself would run away
From Him—and Holy Ghost—and All—
But there’s the ‘Judgment Day’! 

Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, # 632, 703, 164, 412.

See Steven Herrmann, Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times (Kingfisher Press,2018), p. 4.

See Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 21-24

Banner Image: “Stargazing” Photo by Photo by Chris Leggat on Unsplash

Do you agree with Dickinson that the brain, the soul, the consciousness of a human being is as large or larger than the universe and god-like?   What follows from that?

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

7 thoughts on “Further Creation Gifts from Emily Dickinson”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I remember years ago looking at a book that contained microscopic images of the interior of the human body. The bones look like loose leave pages of a book, the central nervous system looks like a tree in full bloom, the pupil of the eyes looks like a cosmic universe, and the brain when establishing a new pattern looks like a new growth tree growing out of a brier bush. This view of the interior of the human body was astounding to me, which expanded my perspective. It also helped me to understand a little bit more the metaphoric imagery of the language of the mystics, poets, shamans and prophets.

  2. Avatar

    I am very grateful to read more of Emily Dickinson’s depth/breadth poetry. She reminds me of Canada’s iconic artist/mystic, Emily Carr who was also a writer, but not of poetry. I copy a brief portion of Margaret Hirst’s essay about Emily:
    The Spiritual and Artistic Journey of Emily Carr
    by Margaret Hirst

    “The only thing worth striving for is to express God.”

    Emily Carr’s evocative paintings have suggested many things to the viewer: Canadian identity,
    love of nature, admiration for native cultures, environmentalism, and even sublimated sexuality. What
    Carr sought, however, was “to paint so simply that the common ordinary people would understand and
    see something of God.”1

    The struggle to achieve this goal is documented in her journals for the period from 1927 to 1941, where, amidst domestic and artistic practicalities, “the presence of God runs… like a supra-human father.”2

    Carr yearned to find and express God, and Lawren Harris, a member of Canada’s iconic Group of Seven, was the catalyst for her great spiritual journey. In addition, Harris befriended and encouraged Carr, offered technical advice, and introduced her to philosophies such as Theosophy andthe transcendental poetry of Walt Whitman.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, thank you so much for sharing with us words about Canada’s artist/mystic, Emily Carr. It is fascinating and something we should look further into!

    2. Avatar
      Jeanette Metler

      Gwen, I’ve read Emily Carr’s journal books as well. After having read them I looked at her art in a completely different way. She truly was a mystic in her own right, and I do perceive this when gazing upon some of her artwork. I remember my last trip to BC, when I was walking through the Catherdral Forest, a sacred place with the oldest trees in Canada, how Emily Carr kept coming to mind. It felt like at times, as if I was in the movie Avatar, for the place itself was so very mystical and magical. It was also sad to read in the news, how just a few miles up the road from this blessed place, their are some whom are trying to log there, while others are fighting to keep these ancient trees safe.

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: