The Best of You!

Sermon: “The Best of You!” 

by Rev. “Twinkle” Marie Porter-Manning

A compelling look at the people, places, and things to whom we give our time, talents, and energies.

Thought for Contemplation: “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” ~ Annie Dillard

Should you incorporate this sermon, or excerpts from within, in your work or worship service, please make a donation to Rev. Manning's work. 

Call to Worship:

Today we will explore life and living. We will contemplate where we give our energy and how we spend our days. Indeed, how we spend our lives. 

And why we sometimes often place on hold our dreams, for the dreams of others. In the words of the Canadian band known as Nickelback:

“What are you waiting for?

Everybody’s gonna make mistakes

But everybody’s got a choice to make

Everybody needs a leap of faith

When are you taking yours?

What are you waiting for?

You gotta go and reach for the top

Believe in every dream that you got

You’re only living once so tell me

What are you, what are you waiting for?

You know you gotta give it your all

And don’t you be afraid if you fall

You’re only living once so tell me

What are you, what are you waiting for?”


“The Best of You!”

Nobel Laurette, Novelist, 

Poet and Playwright, 

Samuel Beckett once questioned 

through the voice of one of his characters, 

Was it to be laugher or tears? 

It came to the same thing in the end, 

but which was it to be now?”

Launched into the category of being an Absurdist, 

in the Theatre of the Absurd,

Beckett’s characters, 

regardless of their frenetic busyness 

or ardent stillness, 

often with little 

or no change 

of scene or setting, 

and with any semblance of a plot 

simply eliminated, 

all underscored profound existentialism. 

Life in its circular, timeless quality. 

Humans as lost creatures, 

spending their days waiting. 

Uncertain of why or for whom they are waiting. 

Uncertain about how long the wait will be,


uncertain how long they should wait.  

And, curious and concerned 

about what they should do while waiting

Tragically Comedic on the surface. 

Spiritual distress just beneath. 

Building from awareness rooted in confusion.

Was it to be laugher or tears? 

It came to the same thing in the end, 

but which was it to be now?”

Many of us here have searched, 

and even found for ourselves, 

purposes and meanings of Life. 

Certainly it has been the topic and theme 

of thousands, if not millions, 

of scholarly and creative works. 

Psychologists, Historians, Poets, Ministers

Whether your faith is in 

evolutionary biology and behavioral sciences, 

or mystical interpretations 

applied to aspects of the Divine and divinity

…or both/and

for we are complex 

in our adaptations 

as we analyze our very existence. 

And the meaning of our existence. 

The purpose for it.

Viktor Frankl, in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” 

which contains autobiographical accounts 

of his experiences and observations 

in concentration camps during the Holocaust, 

and reads as a psychoanalytical guide 

that tells us that 

the Search for Meaning 

is the primary motivation in one’s life. 

Explicitly, he says, 

“The meaning is unique and specific 

in that it must and can be fulfilled 

byoneself alone; 

only then does it achieve a significance 

which will satisfy his own will to meaning. (p.99)

[[changed him to oneself]]

In his work as a neurologist, psychiatrist, and philosopher, 

Frankl placed emphasis on 

personal responsibleness for one’s life. 

Which is admittedly surprising, 

and causes one to pause at length to contemplate, 

when the ideal of personal responsibleness 

is written and promoted by a man 

whose freedoms were robbed, 

his rights to life itself nullified by his captors 

and his very existence determined 

day by day 

and moment by moment 

upon the whims of those who imprisoned him.

Was he perhaps speaking with the vision 

of metaphysically internalizing 

his situation to reflect in his imaginations 

something different than his outward circumstances, 

as is in some practices 

of enlightenment philosophies? 

Was it solely an inward journey he was advocating towards?

Apparently not.

For he said, 

“By declaring that man is responsible 

and must actualize the potential meaning of his life,

I wish to stress that 

the true meaning of life 

is to be discovered in the world 

rather than within man or his own psyche, 

as though it were a closed system.” (p. 110)

Frankl also asserted, 

seemingly at odds 

yet not categorically contradictorily, 


“the meaning of life always changes, 

but that it never ceases to be.” (p. 111)


Was it to be laugher or tears? 

It came to the same thing in the end, 

butwhich was it to be now?”

Are these actual choices?

How does choosing impact us?

What does it look like when we act upon such choices?

The answer resides

Brilliantly, poetically, and prophetically 

as spoken by the profound and confounding Annie Dillard 

when she says, 

“How we spend our days, 

of course, 

is how we spend our lives.”

How do you spend your days?

Who gets the Best of You?

Who, and what, and to where 

do you give your time, talents and energies to?

Are you happy about that?

Does it make your heart sing or weep?

Does it feel like something is missing?

Do you feel off kilter? Lethargic? Resigned? Exhausted? 

Do you feel regrets accumulating 

in equal proportion 

to the wishes accruing in your Bucket List?

Do you wish for more time in a day?

If you got that wish granted, 




do with it?

What would you give the Best of You to, 

if you had more time?

Because I promise you – 

the time is now 

to claim the Best of You 

for yourself.

I know that sounds selfish.

Even, unrealistic.

Improbable, Impractical.

You have so many responsibilities.

People relying on you.

Projects, work, commitments.

To others.

It’s absurd to suggest to claim the Best of You for yourself.

Especially when things may be unresolved 

in facets of your lives.

Especially if it is 

heartache and fear that holds you back, 

tying up your time.

Rendering you immobile, 

unable or unwilling 

to move forward 

to grasp what calls to you

As singer Dave Grohl 

asks and affirms 

and asks again:

“Is someone getting the best of you?”

“Has someone taken your faith?

It’s real, 

the pain you feel

The life, the love

You’d die to heal

The hope that starts,

The broken hearts,

You trust, 

you must confess

Is someone getting the best

The best, 

the best, 

the best of you?

Hope and hopelessness manifesting synonymously.


Yes, such is the theatrics of our realities.

And, time?

It will run out.

And, life?

It will continue to provide 

ample reasons 

to focus on other things.

Things that merit attention, 

yet do not make your heart sing, 

and readily occupy the Best of You 

and your time.

Life, Abundant in its Tragedies:

People you love dearly will die. 

Usually long before you would hope, 

and not always gently, 

in peaceful ways 

that sooth your heart.

Accidents will occur.

Mother Nature’s tendencies will have their toll.

Diagnoses will alter your lives 

and the lives of your loved ones.


and/orthe worry of it, 

in one form or another, 

will always be there.

Politics and movements 

will be devout places 

to funnel vast quantities 

of discontent and contemptuousness

in striations to improve

the quality of the world, 

and the quality of life 

for those who reside here.


Worthy causes, 

altruistic endeavors 

will openly accept 


and more 

you can dedicate to them.

Which can be simpatico. 

If doing so irrefutably makes your heart sing.

Know this.

We can spend our days 

and our lives, 

giving to people, places, and things  

out of a sense of obligation, 

even a sense of urgency, 

and live our lives unfilled, 

never quite reaching, 

or even reaching for, 

that which is most meaningful to us.


We can abide the sentiment of recently departed America icon, 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti when he mused,

“And I may write my own

eponymous epitaph.”

May that be so for all of us.

Regardless of your age now.

Regardless of what sorrows and struggles you’ve experience, 

and may experience in the future.

What do you want the story of your life to be?

How do you want to spend your days?

How do you want to spend your life?

Do that!

Please, do that!

Set aside regrets for that which you cannot change.

Release hope for that which never was, 

nor will ever be.

Embrace the Meaning of Your Life!

And live your life in a way that shows you do.

Honor the Meaning of YourLife!

Was it to be laugher or tears? 

It came to the same thing in the end, 

butwhichwas itto be now?”

Give the Best of You to You!

There will be plenty left over 

to share with everyone else 

you wish to give some to.

To your family, to your friends, to your community.

To causes that need a helping hand.

To projects that interest you and align with your spirit, 

yet are secondary to that which makes your heart sing.

You Can give to them too…

But give the Best of You to you first.

Consider the words of David Brooks, 

author of “The Second Mountain, the Quest for a Moral Life,” 

when he says, 

“In this day and age, 

our primary problems 

are at the level of the foundations

They are at the level of the systems of relationships.” 

He says, 

“The social fabric is not woven by leaders from above. 

It is woven at every level

through a million caring actions, 

from one person to another. 

It is woven by people fulfilling their roles 

as good friends, neighbors, and citizens.” 

(He says)

“Whenever I treat another person 

as if he were an object,

I’ve ripped the social fabric. 

When I treat another person as an infinite soul, 

I have woven the social fabric.” (p.308)

This is no less true, 

when the person we are treating these ways 

is ourselves. 

When you give the Best of You to you first

you are claiming your place in society,

honoring your inherent worth and dignity. 

By giving the Best of You to you first, 

you model for others how to do the same for themselves.

This does not create a society of self-centered egotistical members. 

No. Rather, 

it embodies the qualities of collaborative communities, 

centering the value of every member equally, 

honoring each person’s talents and dreams, 

and not drawing energies 

Vampirically from each other, 

nor to excess of what is able to sustain an individual.

When individuals in a family and in a community 

take care to take care of themselves

they are more able to serve and show up 

in their families and communities in meaningful ways, 

and sustainably so. 

And, with lighter hearts and happier spirits.

What a blessing that is for everyone.

Giving the Best of You to you first, is an act of love.

Love for your family.

Love for your community.

Love for yourself.

If you don’t already do so, try that for a while.

Be brave, 

be strong, 

above that be clear when you answer

“How do you really want to spend your days?”


be committed:

Claim your life for your own.

Give the Best of You to you!

May it be so.


Pastoral Benediction

For all life is a gift

Which we are called to use

to make our own days glad.

May you give yourself permission 

to receive the Best of You!

May you affirm and support each other 

in such endeavors. 

May you be gentle with yourselves 

and with each other.

May we meet again.


COPYRIGHT “The Best of You!” Sermon written and delivered by Rev. “Twinkle” Marie Manning, February 28th, 2021


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