It was an overcast day, the gray clouds mirroring my mood from the news I had just received early that morning. My mother called from Kansas to tell me that her father, Grandpa Wallace Fleming, had just passed on. As I lay in bed gazing out the window at the colorless clouds thinking of him, a perfectly circular opening appeared in the gloom through which I could see brilliant blue sky. At that moment I seemed to hear grandpa speaking to me and telling me he had “made it over” and all was well.
It was March, 1978 and I was living in Boulder, Colorado serving as a juvenile probation officer and working on my Master’s degree in Public Administration with specialization in criminal justice. In August of 1981 after I moved to New Mexico, I visited the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos which had an impressive collection of Native American and Hispanic art and artifacts. https://www.millicentrogers.org/pages/mission
I was drawn to a particular Hopi pot and discovered quite to my surprise a depiction of what were said were “spirit holes”–circular openings in the clouds through which the spirits pass through. In total amazement, I realized that my personal experience was not singular and indeed was confirmed by at least one other culture, in this case the Hopi Pueblo people of Arizona.
From a strictly meteorological point of view, there are some possible scientific explanations: https://www.weather.gov/grb/111506_holepunch https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/weather/2020/11/25/what-is-a-hole-punch-cloud and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallstreak_hole I have been told by Indigenous Pueblo people where I live in New Mexico that they traditionally believe moisture from the clouds in the form of rain, snow, etc. is the ancestors coming to visit. If you think about it, when we pass on, the moisture which comprises nearly 70% of the adult human body, evaporates into the atmosphere and to some degree becomes part of the life cycle that includes the formation of clouds. Maybe that “some degree” also carries the voice and spirit of the ancestors.
In any case, that day in Boulder I am certain the voice and spirit of my own ancestor Grandpa Fleming spoke through the perfect circle in the clouds, letting me know he’d made a happy landing.