A Remarkable Story Heard at the Kitchen Table

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Here at the Butcher Block Company we love all things kitchen. So much happens in the kitchen – the Heart of the Home – where families and friends, sometimes joined by strangers, come together not just to share food and drink, but more broadly, to share the human experience.

The range of our interactions with one another in the kitchen run the gamut. We gather together there to pray collectively before partaking of food and drink; to celebrate momentous occasions and achievements and to comfort one another in times of distress. Over the dinner table parents upbraid as well as praise their children; and in some families, vice versa. Lovers and friends alike share with each other their most intimate thoughts, including feedback ranging from adulation to criticism. We update one another on the details of our days – whether significant or mundane, meaningful or inane. And we pass along stories from person to person, from family to family and from generation to generation.

The kitchen is where humans bond; where we laugh and dream together, and unfortunately on occasion, where we fret and mourn together. In short, the kitchen is where we come together and share the full spectrum of human emotions.

So here is the first of what we hope will be endless, memorable and moving Stories from the Kitchen.

A few years back, my wife, our two daughters and I were visiting my mother’s cousin, who happens also to be my Godfather, and his wife. Seated at their kitchen table, nibbling crackers and cheese, my Godfather recounted, for the benefit of my teenage daughters, a story that I had heard many times before, but that moves me more with every retelling.

Serving in the Greek Merchant Marines in World War II, “Uncle” George’s ship was torpedoed, but he had the good fortune to be rescued by another ship nearby. But as fate would have it, only 36 hours later that ship too was torpedoed by the Germans. Clinging to a life raft, he and four shipmates managed to hang on for dear life.

There, in those frigid waters, Uncle George prayed with all his heart and soul. He made a promise to God that changed his life forever. All he wanted was to live to see his mother and father once more. In exchange, he committed to devote what time and effort he could to serving God.

As it happened, a Canadian ship was not far away, but its current course would not bring it near the stranded Greek seamen. At least that was the case until the captain of the Canadian liner awoke from his sleep and on a hunch, changed his ship’s course by a mere 15 degrees. Lo and behold, the Greek sailors were discovered and rescued a second time, all within the span of 48 hours.

George K. Chimples emigrated to the U.S. after the war, where he became a successful businessman and philanthropist. Throughout his life, he more than fulfilled the bargain he struck that fateful night. Among his many acts of devotion and charity, Uncle George served as Chairman of United Greek Charities, founded an international Greek Orthodox fund-raising organization and served his faith at the highest level of lay leadership.

Now do you believe in miracles? Uncle George sure did. So do I. And now, my daughters do too.

The next time you gather with family or friends in the Heart of Your Home, don’t pass up the opportunity to share a story. They’re an important part of the human experience that we all share.

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