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The Language of Clouds


“I’ve looked at clouds
from both sides now,
from up and down,
and still somehow,
it’s clouds’ illusions I recall;
I really don’t know clouds at all.”
—Joni Mitchell

When I was a small child, I saw clouds as one-dimensional, as if they were painted on the sky by some artistic giant. It was really only after I flew in an airplane many years later that I perceived the three-dimensionality of clouds. At 20,000 feet, flying above and through them, I could see their depth and dimensions, their constantly changing shapes and sizes. It was a revelation to me, and I became fascinated with them. Even on the ground, I could see that they were not really paper-thin but often thick and expansive…and constantly morphing into new forms.

Their very names describe clouds’ variety, each kind indicating a different altitude, shape, and weather pattern. There are low-level, mid-level, and high-level clouds, with names like cumulus, cirrus, stratus, cumulonimbus, and altocumulus. They can look like scattered puffs of white dotting the sky, huge towering cotton balls, or long streaks of pale fiber with little sky visible. Flying next to and through cumulus clouds (the giant cotton balls) is awe-inspiring. The play of light and shadow on the brilliant whiteness, as well as the illusion of solidity (flying into and out of them), makes for an other-worldly experience. Thus the reason why many people feel as if they are close to heaven when they fly.

In that heavenly place, I began to look at clouds from the perspective of a spiritual being rather than a scientific observer. Flying in a plane, completely untethered to Earth and its materiality, I felt my consciousness lifted to a higher dimension. I was part of something larger than my one physical form: a powerful presence that encompassed the plane, the clouds, the sky, me, and everything beyond what I could see with my physical eyes. Within that experience, I learned that some things cannot be expressed through the language of words, but only through the silent language of the heart and soul.

My spiritual path over the years has continued to show me that silence often communicates more than sound. Within silence, we are present to Presence itself, which animates the universe. In meditation, quiet walks in nature, or sky rides, my conscious awareness drops deeper and expands wider to accommodate the vastness of that universe. I am speechless before its grandeur and infinite unfolding. An experience of God/dess at its most profound and far-reaching.

As a writer, I often try to describe these moments of transcendent awareness and divine connection. Yet, human language somehow falls short of fully conveying the extraordinary magnificence of our world: the flowers, butterflies, trees, human faces, heavenly encounters—and clouds. Each one is a unique expression of the love and light that is the Source of everything in the universe. When we awake each morning and step into the day before us, it is a sacred walk upon the Earth. For me, it is an experience beyond words, one that teaches me over and over that the wisest truth about life is that it is an eternally changing wonder and mystery. Like clouds themselves.

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