The world knows only big things: sex and the state being its perennial idols. But they are "tohu v'bohu," says the prophet Jeremiah; the same words used to describe the emptiness of the world before God created it. We rise by our own power, we believe, and by our presumptuousness we reduce ourselves to nothing; that is the way of falsehood and death; it is the sin of Satan. But when we fall down before God and repeat the prayer of the publican, "O Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner," or when we break open what treasure we have and pour it at the feet of Jesus, as did the harlot, minging the ointment with her tears, we become like that Christ who fashioned the very dust of the universe, and did not think it was beneath him to become dust, for the sake of dust. The world has had presentiments of this truth, but there will always be something big and showy to distract us from it. Hence the value of silence, and of agreeing to descend with Christ, even to fall upon our faces and say what, after all, is only the truth, that we are nothing -- and to be convicted by that fact, yet never to despair. For even in the valley of the shadow of death, and perhaps there especially, God is with us, like a shepherd, calling home the lost.