Image in the clouds: 'Grandma's picture' tells remarkable story

"Grandma, tell me the story about the picture again."

Those were the words on the lips of then 4-year-old Jules Massey of Fayette City, as he spoke to his grandmother, Frances Pennline of Charleroi. For as long as Massey could remember, "grandma's picture" was placed on her dresser mirror, and every time she would tell the marvelous story, it was as if it had never before been told.

It was August of 1973 when Pennline and her sister Helen Thompson decided to take a plane trip to Florida to visit another sister. While in flight, a storm arose, throwing the plane into great uncontrollable turbulence. Oxygen masks fell out of their compartments as panic overtook the plane.
But the two sisters sat in prayerful silence asking God to intervene, asking for calmness to wash over the plane. And as they prayed, calmness came and the turbulence ceased.

According to Massey, when the plane approached a Florida runway to land, Pennline looked out the window, only to behold a very dark cloud with a bright ray of light coming out from the right. "She was taken by its beauty as she nudged her sister to take a photograph of its splendor," said Massey. "In that moment, the picture was taken, but it wasn't until the roll of film was developed at a local pharmacy in the Mon Valley area that my grandmother realized the depth of what this particular photo held." As the story goes, the phone rang and Thompson answered. On the other end of the line was the pharmacist saying, "Helen, I think you better get down here."

At the door, she recalled the pharmacist saying, "Is this who I think it is?" Massey said his aunt broke down and wept when she saw the photograph. "There in their hands was the unmistakable image of God's own son, Jesus Christ," said Massey. "An image formed not by clouds, but the very presence of God's son standing in the ray of light; an image of Him from the neck down. His face cannot be made out." It is this very story that Massey has carried with him into his adulthood, the perfect memory of a child remembering all the details of a story that was not a fairy tale, but one of great truth.

Though the story remains alive, Pennline died in April 1994, and the picture had disappeared. With only a Xerox photocopy of the original photo, Massey knew the reprint would not do justice in the newspaper. Little did he know what was about to happen. On Tuesday, Sept. 18, I took the photocopy to a speaking engagement at a women's group at the Bentleyville Wesleyan Church.

I told the story and explained that the original photo was lost. In an attempt to locate the original photo, I planned to place the photocopy in the Sept. 21 Jubilation, hoping that someone would recognize the picture and give us a call. The next day, Debbie Caldwell, who was present the night before, shared with Dolores Charlton of Mononga-hela about the photograph. As she explained and described the picture, Dolores looked at her with awe saying, "I think I have that picture!'"

"In a matter of two hours after receiving a phone, call, I arrived at Dolores Charlton's residence. To my absolute amazement, I found myself viewing the original photograph. Everything was identical, all the way down to the cloud formations.

Charlton's neighbor, Kim Davies, said she recalled the same photo being passed around her school bus in the early 1970s. Another memory led her to make an additional phone call which told of still another woman who showed this identical photo at Transfiguration School while in the cafeteria line.

These turn of events began to paint a new picture of a precious woman of God, Frances Pennline. A woman determined to glorify God, making additional prints from the negative and passing the miracle on to others. People who hold this photo in their possession admit it has had an impact on their lives.

Please share this article with someone. Pass on the miracle of divine intervention that caused a plane to calm in the midst of a storm as the Lord then appeared in a photograph saying, "It was I. Peace be still." Rejoice with Jules Massey and me with the second divine intervention that provided us with the original photo.

Editors note: If you have a copy of the original photo in your possession today, please contact Jubilation at (724) 684-2615.