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Mary Oliver writes in uncomplicated ways. It is not simple, but there are elements of simplicity linked to complexity. Her poem Praying is an example of this simplexity. Praying is an entreaty or asks for something and suggests creating space for responses. There is a simplicity in the way prayer unfolds. It happens anywhere, anytime, and with few words. The complex part is being quiet and discerning the answers. This requires quiet spaces that we have to craft out of the busyness of modern lives and days.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

24 responses »

  1. Grand in being simple but eloquent! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  2. I think thankfulness is another key ingredient here. Thanks for sharing!

  3. The simplest prayers can be so effective. When you don’t know what to pray, ‘please help’ comes in very handy.

  4. I love it. And I like your word ‘simplexity’!

  5. Just read one by her tonight from Evidence, called “Prayer.” I love her because I stopped praying long ago, mostly. But I miss it, and she offers a way back, not into religion though. A way of looking at myself as part of the universe maybe.

    “Prayer” by Mary Oliver

    May I never not be frisky,
    May I never not be risque.

    May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
    and give them to the ocean,

    leap in the froth of the waves,
    still loving movement,

    still ready, beyond all else,
    to dance for the world.

  6. “Simplexity” – perfect Ivon..

  7. Reblogged this on What a Heart Can Hold – visit my website at and commented:
    I love this poem. Thanks to Ivon for posting it on his blog. Such a simple thought – “it doesn’t have to be the blue iris.” I think understanding that is key to a joyful life.

  8. Just reblogged this. Thanks for posting it.

  9. Love this poem; love Mary Oliver’s poetry! Our lives do get busy & I hate it when I don’t have time to pray or rest silently in God. This poem’s “simplexity” always reminds me that our whole day is an expression of another kind of prayer. Thanks for the post!


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