The Gestalt of God (A Philosophical Draft)

By Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

Let’s set the record straight.
I do not claim to know what god 
might be, nor do I entirely get gestalt.
Being neither religious nor German 
(though my maiden name means Messenger 
of God, my married, German name, Heart 
of God),I, an ordinary, unemployed English 
major from state-funded schools, graduate
in education with a too-expensive writing focus 
made trivial by an increasingly “complex landscape” 
made even more needlessly intricate by devising
“complex challenges” that require more and more
“innovation,” well, what could I possibly have to offer
besides a bit of Transcendentalism, where Nature,
God, and We Each are one? I mean, come on. 

Next to the Big Guys, what am I other than someone
who has decided what they have in common—
that it is their moving, shiny, simple parts that make 
up the aggregate? That all you need to do in order
to understand anything is break it apart and put it back 
together? That when you take out the watercolor pencils 
and see there are only nine or ten or twelve variations,
it’s time to buy a bigger set, each with their own 
easy-to-understand name? And goodness me,

how did I not flunk Shakespeare when, upon 
having to read the literary critics and write a paper
on one I chose, I responded with my own criticism 
of critics and might have annoyed the professor 
who wrote, “Then why pick this article in the first place?” 
And I think what he was getting at, I think what I’m 
trying to say, is there are so many aspects to anything 
we might choose, so many objects in motion, it’s no

wonder people get confused, thinking they need
select a single source, mistaking the elephant 
hoof or tail or trunk for the entirety of the thing, 
when we were blindfolded into believing these were 
the totality of experience, the one, the way,
the truth. And so I return to my friend Thoreau,
my buddy Emerson, to their roots in Eastern thought,
tracing as best I can these tributaries through history 
and philosophy, only to end up here: Simplify, simplify, 

simplify. Return to the woods to live deliberately, to front 
the essentials of life and learn what it has to teach. And 
when you reenter, ready to take that beautiful, individual, 
self into a world gone mad with extras and unnecessaries, 
tell us what you discovered when you peeled back the bark 
of all you had discarded. That’s where wholeness lies. 

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright March 26, 2024, all rights reserved 

Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, hails from the Northern Virginia/D.C. metro area. She considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. An active part of the literary community, Katherine was a past-president and a founding member of Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Katherine has been a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was the winner of Inside Nova’s 2019 and 2020 Best of Prince William award in the category of author. Her poetry and prose book Get Happy, Dammit: Staying Inspired and Motivated in an Often-Unhappy World received a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association. Katherine's children’s book, A Crane Named Steve, hit number one in its category on Amazon in 2019. Katherine then took first place in the free verse category of Loudoun County Library Foundation’s 2020 Rhyme On poetry contest for her piece "Discussion Topic." The Prince William Arts Council and Poet Laureate Circle awarded her the 2020 Outstanding Poetry Project Award for her leadership in Write by the Rails' Poems Around Town poetry installation. In 2021 Katherine earned second place for "Aftermath" in a Poetry Society of Virginia national contest and the regional Seefeldt Award for Arts Excellence in the category of Individual Artist. She won first place in the Virginia Writers Club statewide Golden Nib contest in the poetry category for her poem "Kayak." Katherine was recognized as a PW Perspective 2021 DMV Best Business award winner in the category of author. In April 2023, Katherine’s poem “Now Entering Manassas” was the winner of Manassas, Virginia's adult “time capsule” poetry contest. Katherine read her poem at the 150th anniversary celebration, the translated version by Jorge de Villasante was read in Spanish by Bianca Menendez, her poem was published in Neighbors of Historic Manassas magazine, and it was included in the city’s time capsule. While Katherine is well-known for her poetry, she also has established a solid reputation for writing articles, columns and short fiction. She is published in dozens of journals and anthologies and has authored 12 books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April, A Crane Named Steve, Get Happy, Dammit, D.C. Ekphrastic: Crisis of Faith, Thirty Years of Cardinals Calling, Get Happier, Dammit and We All Might Be Witches. She uses proceeds from her books to support giving back initiatives.
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