A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook inbox mes-sage from someone I don’t know. The message said, “I am looking for a decedent of Joseph Hrabko.” Thinking that it might be a distant relative doing genealogy re-search, I said, “Yes. Are you a relative?” The man re-plied, “No. I was hired by a realtor to clean out a house in Youngstown.
The owner went into a nursing home. The realtor told me to take what I wanted and throw the rest in the dumpster. I found this beautiful old jewelry box made by Joseph Hrabko, and am trying to re-turn it to someone in his family.” I said, “Yes, that is my great-grandfather! An old Hungarian cabinet maker.”
My great-grandfather brought his family to the USA in the early 1900’s, when my grandmother was a child. He worked as a cabinet maker all of his life, making furniture. In those days, no scrap of wood was ever wasted. So, he would save small scraps of wood that were left over from projects, and make things to give away to family and friends. He made step stools, picture frames, tables, and jewelry boxes; all out of bits and scraps of wood. Turns out the jewelry box that was found belonged to a very distant relative. My great-grandfather probably gave it her as a Christmas present years ago.
I am hoping to meet the man who found the jewelry box in the next few weeks, to receive the box and to thank him for all of the effort he took to find me. It will be a wonderful keepsake for our family.
For me, it has been a bit of a struggle to be on the receiving end of such gracious-ness and generosity. It is much easier to give, than to receive. It is often a struggle for us to be the recipient of someone’s kindness. We don’t like to owe anyone, or be beholden to anyone.
It is the awkward place we find ourselves in as people of faith. We are all the recipients of God’s unmerited and unearned grace, love and mercy. We can never pay God back for that. All we can do is say, “Thank you.”
The New Year is a good time to begin new habits. Let’s resolve to look for the ways that God extends little kindnesses to us every day, and to simply say “thank you.”
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