Melannie Svoboda's last book for Twenty-Third Publications was By the Way: 100 Reflections on the Spiritual Life. She currently writes, directs retreats, and gives talks.

In a brief introduction, Svoboda say that she hopes the poems in this book will nudge readers toward prayer. She also would be delighted if "they will pique your curiosity, slow you down, and reaffirm for you the mystery and beauty of daily life with its light and shadows, joys and sorrows, perplexities and understanding."

Svoboda begins with a bow to the ambiguity and "fuzzy edges" of life when so many of us are still looking for certainties and security. There is also a part of us that wants to know why ordinary people are capable of doing some extraordinary things. Reason and logic are of little use when it comes to human beings doing their best in a loving spirit.

In "Courage," Svoboda honors the heartiness of "a crocus pushing up through the snow" and "a robin chirping in the morn." She helps us to see that this quality of courage is not only manifested in battles and war. It is a precious resource in the natural world and must be given the proper attention it deserves.

Svoboda has also written prayer poems on Biblical figures, the greatest sin, grief, homesickness, the to-do list, upon reading Moby Dick, and much more. The author is a master of everyday spirituality as evidenced in this prayer-poem:

"Every encounter is sacred,
whether with loved one
or stranger;
whether brief
or prolonged,
planned or unexpected,
desired or dreaded.
Every encounter is sacred,
for it can open us up
to wider possibilities
and impel us toward caring,
thus freeing us
from a pinched life
of self-preoccupation."