Can You Imagine?

Wednesday night my family and I accompanied two dear friends of the family to Eyler’s Valley Chapel for Christmas services.

No electricity, no bathrooms, nada! Candles were put in a type of pulley chandelier get-up, and candles were in every window, as well. So in spite of the fact there were only candles, there did seem to be enough light to look at the bulletin with the order of service, song lyrics, etc. My daughter, a true city girl, begged me to accompany her to the outhouse, if for no other reason than to take her picture. Someone had lit kerosene lanterns along the path to the the rustic wooden bridge that one had to cross in order to get to the other side of the creek. No small task for someone with balance problems who also has night vision problems with no handrails! Geesh! The “bridge”comprised of simple wooden planks across some logs! What a mother will do for a daughter who’s intent on seeing an

As I sat there with my family and two friends listening to the simple yet beautiful Christmas story, I couldn’t help but think what would be different if I was sitting in the chapel during the first decade it had opened. In 1895-1905, there were not any cochlear implants. My friend Faith, sat to my left. Her cochlear implant is on her right side, mine is on my left. It’s a perfect situation because we “hear best” on the side of our implants. So with she on my left, and I on her right, we communicate very well! But we would have not been able to hear anything had we not been sitting in the chapel in the 21st century. I think we would have still been present at the service. We both have supportive families, and we both love the Lord. I like to believe that we would have both been present anyway, in spite of not being able to hear. One doesn’t have to hear, to desire to worship and celebrate Christ’s birth.

But as I sat there, my heart just welled up with emotion as I realized how blessed I am to be living in 2007. I went from almost total deafness, to being able to hear a Christmas service without microphones. I heard the little church bell ring in the bell tower right as the service began. I could hear people turning the pages of their bulletins. I heard the “clunk” of change in the offering baskets as they passed.

Yes! Hearing aids (a.k.a. hearing “trumpets”) were used as early as 1772. Beethoven had one made for him! (Check this link out for hearing aid history). But the general public did not have access too, nor the money to spend on “luxury items” such as these. I would have gone through my late 20’s and early 30’s, saying “beg your pardon?” a great deal. Likely my speech reading skills would have been much better due to the fact that I had little choice. However, my own speech would have likely deteriorated much quicker as well. I was “aided” from about the age of 30 to present. So although my speech was beginning to suffer prior to my implant, it would have likely been much worse without the access I’ve had to technology.

So this Christmas, I am thankful for the day in which I live. It took one small and quaint little chapel service to “bring it all home” for me.

Denise Portis
©2007 Hearing Loss Diary

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