Neale Adams, retiring Diocesan Communications Officer
As a lifelong communicator, I've always been intrigued that the word "communicate" has two meanings: to impart information of knowledge, its common meaning, and to receive consecrated bread or wine at the Eucharist.

It turns out that the two meanings, in English, date to the 1500s. But the word "communicate" comes from classical Latin, meaning "to share with," and in fact the Latin word communicare referred to the Eucharist as early as the third century. To me both the Eucharist (or Holy Communion) and communication are mystical. The Eucharist is a mystery because in some sense bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ-although spare me the debate over transubstantiation. But communication is mystical too, for how is it that an idea in my head can somehow be transmitted into yours?

There's a somewhat obscure Finnish professor of communications with the wonderful name of Osmo A. Wiio who is beginning to become know for writing a number of "laws of communications." They're in the same humorous style as Murphy's laws (for example, "Anything that can possibly go wrong, will"). Because they make us laugh doesn't mean they aren't true.

Wiio's first law is this: "Human communication usually fails, except by accident." That's because human beings generally use symbols-like words. And words, although they seem to have a conventional meaning, do have different shades of meaning to different people.

Add to that language differences, cultural differences, and different assumptions about how much each other know about a subject-plus the difficulty of transmitting information at all due to noise, or poor lines, or inattention on the part of one party or the other-and it's a miracle that we can communicate at all.

I use the word "miracle" intentionally. For it seems to me that indeed there are times when we do feel that we are getting through to each other, that we are one with each other, sympatico. In many situations in our lives, and I include our family life, our working lives, and our parish lives, we do seem to communicate. Is it, as Wiio claims, that we get through to each other "by accident"?

In my experience real communication comes only between people who somehow appreciate each other. Lovers, young or old, who are so entirely in sync with each other they can finish each other's sentences.

But people can communicate if they are joined in friendship or a common task. They may not agree, but are willing to listen to each other because they respect each other as human beings. Or you could say they "love" each other as Christians are supposed to. Love of this sort does not guarantee that communication is easy, but it does make it possible. And we all know Who the source of love is.

This perhaps is in part what Bishop Michael was getting at in his commencement speech at Episcopal Divinity School last month when he said that Truth is best "expressed not as a series of propositions, but as a person...Truth is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ." (See page 6.) And getting at the truth of anything should be why we communicate.

This is my last issue as editor of TOPIC and as Communications Officer for the Diocese of New Westminster. In the nine years I've had the privilege of this job, I think we have occasionally communicated well, whether through this paper, the website, or elsewhere. It's been a challenge, as well as a wonderful privilege.

And we have had some spectacular failures. The fallings out we have seen, and the decision of some clergy and people to leave the diocese, have been very sad. Animosity built up for years. The refusal of some clergy to communicate with others-communicate in the Eucharistic sense-several years ago was a very bad sign, perhaps the fatal one.

Still, could we all have shown more love to each other? I think so; we always can.