The Blessed Blackdrop

10 May 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here:]


In one of the function rooms at the Solent Hotel in Hampshire, England, there is a backdrop. It is like a black curtain that goes almost the full length of one wall. Blackdrop was a spelling mistake but one I like.


I like the spelling mistake because this black backdrop – this blackdrop – conceals a secret.


At the flick of a switch, this blackdrop becomes lit by 10,000 stars. It is an LED curtain, and it looks like the sky at night when powered up.


Photographing and videoing members of my network against the blackdrop was ideal. The contrast made them seem brighter and bolder. This got me thinking.


The natural state of the universe is not visible light but rather darkness. I am told there is a backdrop of microwave radiation everywhere, but I don’t understand this nor can I see it. What I do see is a blackdrop punctuated by billions of beautiful stars.


My spiritual friends tell me that, “Darkness is just the absence of Light.” If this is so, it is Darkness, not Light, that is the canvas upon which Light paints its patterns. Darkness is the norm. Darkness is the dominant state.


I’ve wasted decades agonising over how Life ‘ought’ to be. Life ought to be fair, just, kind, full of love. Whilst that would be great, it’s not been my experience, nor, when I listen to the lessons of history, has it been the dominant experience for the majority of humans throughout time. Nature, herself, though beautiful, is also violent, dangerous, cruel and capricious.


This is good news… if we use it to revise our expectations.


The truth is that Darkness is the canvas. Struggle, disappointment, setbacks, sickness, strife, dissatisfaction, and suffering aren’t ‘wrong’ because they ‘shouldn’t’ be there. They are the norm. They just ‘are’. Once I let go of a sense of entitlement to a good life – one where everything ‘goes right’ – one devoid of trouble - I discover something even more wonderful than the transformation of the Solent’s Blackdrop into a Starscape. I discover new dimensions of gratitude and joy.


Given that all of us are born into a life that will know suffering, every cup of coffee becomes a joy. Every sunny day. Every rainy day. Every kind word. Every act of kindness. Every experience of the shower. Every flower. Every glass of wine. Every olive. Every slice of toast.


Walk this way for a week and then a new transformation will appear. It's like flicking a switch.


The backdrop to your life and my life will become not Darkness but Gratitude. Gratitude becomes the canvas upon which moments of joy decorate our day.


What are you grateful for today?


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