of the earth with the water of life, modify the natural heat of life, and hasten to bestow aid wherever it is needed. In addition to fulfilling these and other duties, the vast clouds, capable of filling the heavens sometimes hide themselves, with their parts retiring to rest so that not a trace can be seen, just like a well-disciplined army showing and hiding itself in accordance with sudden orders.
Then, the very instant the command is given to pour down rain, the clouds gather in one hour, or rather in a few minutes; they fill the sky and await further orders from their commander.
Next the traveller looks at the wind in the atmosphere and sees that the air is employed wisely and generously in such numerous tasks that it is as if each of the inanimate atoms of that unconscious air were hearing and noting the orders coming from that monarch of the universe; without neglecting a single one of them, it performs them in ordered fashion and through the power of the monarch. Thereby it gives breath to all beings and conveys to all living things the heat, light, and electricty they need, and transmits sound, as well as aiding in the pollination of plants.
The traveller then looks at the rain and sees that within those delicate, glistening sweet drops, sent from a hidden treasury of mercy, there are so many compassionate gifts and functions contained that it is as if mercy itself were assuming shape and flowing forth from the dominical treasury in the form of drops. It is for this reason that rain has been called “mercy.”
Next the traveller looks at the lightning and listens to the thunder and ses that both of these, too, are employed in wondrous tasks.
Then taking his eyes off these, he looks to his own intellect and says: “The inanimate, lifeless cloud that resembles carded cotton has of course no knowledge of us; when it comes to our aid, it is not because it takes pity on us. It cannot appear and disappear without receiving orders. Rather it acts in accordance with the orders of a most powerful and compassionate commander. First it diasppears without leaving a trace, then suddenly reappears in order to begin its work. By the command and power of a most active and exalted, a most magnificent and splendid, monarch, it fills and then empties the atmosphere. Inscribing the sky with wisdom and erasing the pattern, it makes of the sky a tablet of effacement and affirmation, a depiction of the gathering and the resurrection. By the contriving of a most generous and bountiful, a most munificent and solicitous sustainer, a ruler who regulates and disposes, it mounts the wind and taking with it treasuries of rain each as heavy as a mountain, hastens to the aid of the needy. It is as if it were weeping over them in pity, with