Healing Line

Healing Line

One Grand "Alleluia"

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2003

Our dear friend, Rev. Tommy Tyson, died at 5:00 AM on December 5, in his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the same bed in which his wife had passed away, just five months previously. Since many of you know him (and he was a member of CHM's National Board) I share the following excerpts from an appreciation I sent to his family.

"Tommy will never die! We all believe that Tommy still lives, but it is still so hard for us: we so miss seeing and hearing him.

In our minds we know there comes a time for this earthly life to end, but in our hearts we didn't want his to ever stop, and Tommy fought courageously for life to the very end. Tommy had the fullest, most joy–filled life of anyone I've ever known. To me, and to Judith, he was like a brother, only more than a brother, and his family became like a second family to us, and Aqueduct — his retreat center in North Carolina — became our second home.

Beginning with meeting Tommy at a life–changing conference in 1967 in Tennessee, a life of spiritual adventure began. In 1970 we went on our first missionary venture to Costa Rica, Peru and Bolivia; according to some historians this began the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church in Latin America; it was the first of our many journeys that took us to every continent.

So many memories, so many spiritual adventures! You may have heard the story of our trip to Bolivia in 1970, when Tommy woke up in the middle of the night and whispered to me that he was dying. We lit a candle and prayed until dawn, and Tommy lived. It's hard to believe that was more than 30 years ago.

Many of you knew him — his remarkable gifts! To me he was most remarkable in living to the full what he preached. His great teaching was about the Incarnation and the wedding of opposites — of how the human and the divine were joined together in Jesus and in us. And that's what we saw in Tommy, the joining of the human and the divine. He told the best jokes and he laughed harder at them than any of us, but he also preached the deepest, the most profound spiritual truths of anyone I've ever heard.

Another remarkable gift we all recognized in Tommy was his extraordinary joy. People just enjoyed being around him. Aside from the great benefit of absorbing what he taught, the joy that came from him was a teaching in itself. I remember him saying that just as we can catch sickness by being around someone who is sick, we should be able to catch divine life just by being around a Christian. That was more true of Tommy than anyone I ever knew. His joy was contagious. Just to be around him was to come to life, to bask in joy and laughter. Tommy refused to be "problem–centered"; he wanted to concentrate on solutions, and for Tommy, the ultimate solution was always Jesus.

Being privileged to visit Tommy and his family twice this past summer, I was amazed to see how easily he moved between talking to us and talking to God; it was all part of one beautiful movement. He didn't just pray at the appointed times; he would slip into praising Jesus at almost any time. I've never seen anything like it.

His daughter Joyce told me that the last words she heard Tommy say, during those last two day,s, while he was lying in bed, unconscious to the world, were a quietly whispered, "Alleluia. Alleluia."

That sums up his entire life, except that it was not just a whispered Alleluia, but it was one grand "Alleluia."

I don't think we shall ever see his like again.

But our consolation is that we will all meet once again in great joy, where together we shall laugh and praise the Lord — not just for 80 years, but forever.

That will be our everlasting homecoming!"

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2003 Issue