A bright light went out in Waco, Texas this past Saturday, December 16, when Ann Roznovsky drew her last breath. Waco set aside “Ann Roznovsky Day” in 1996 when she carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Waco. A career journalist, she was the face of the Waco Tribune for over 50 years. Her achievements and accolades are too numerous to list in this brief column.
Three years ago Ann adopted my column. I guess she adopted me. When she learned I write my column for free, she signed on as my “proof reader” at the same pay grade. I don’t think she missed a week sending me corrections, comments, affirmation and encouragement. You will probably find a misplaced comma or two in this week’s column because the “Comma Queen” wasn’t there to catch them.
Over the years our correspondence became a conversation. During the last year she talked about her battle with cancer. In spite of her pain, she always encouraged my writing. As so many other friends, I grew to love her.
A constant encourager, she included this in her response when I wrote a column on “Encouragement.”
“I find in this finish-up stage of cancer that we DO indeed need encouragement DAILY! And giving it to others is fun for us, too. There is a checkout woman at Target that I make a point to use whenever she is at work. She seems lonely and sad. I purposely start up a friendly conversation about good things, even if it is just sunshine or “an August day that is cooler than 100” or something. It seems to brighten her day. I began bringing her our coupons as often as I could find her working. It is such fun to see how such a small thing has her beaming by the time I check out. It makes me happy, too! I find myself smiling broadly as I walk to my car.”
Many of us will miss Ann’s encouragement. I am grieved to lose her.
News of Ann’s death reminds me that Jesus’ birth is more than a holiday. His birth includes our grief. Many families will gather this Christmas Day with an empty place at the table and an empty space in their hearts. Such pain and loss can overwhelm us, especially when everyone else seems to be singing and laughing. While many celebrate Christmas lights some will struggle through days of darkness. To these God gave His promise: “The Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” (Luke 1:78-79).
The full story of Jesus’ birth embraces both the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow. Whether we are filled with celebration and happiness or thrown into heartache and despair, God is sufficient. He has been there. He knows our joy and our sorrow, and He has given His Son that we might know Him. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, the prophet Simeon told Mary, “A sword shall pierce your own soul.” (Luke 2:35). Thirty-three years later Mary watched Him die for our sins on the cross. Luke says she “pondered all these things in her heart.”
May we ponder these things, too, on this Christmas Day, on “the day after” and throughout the year, that we might know Him and embrace His love in every circumstance. That we might be a source of encouragement and hope to those around us.