|A white stage, inspired by St. Gobnait's story....|
"Gobnait" (pronounced GAWB-net) is the Irish version of Abigail - In Hebrew Abigail means "my father is joy". And I cannot help but think about these verses:
"...in your presence there is fullness of joy..."
"...You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy..."
"... the joy of the LORD is your strength..."
St Gobnait is one of few women Irish saints we have and she lived around the 5th– 6th century. She is known as the saint for bees and beekeepers. She is also the patron of the sick and it is likely that she used honey as a healing medicine (which is considered to be one of the three great Celtic healers - the other two being water and labor).
Gobnait was born in County Clare. She fled from Clare and took refuge in the Aran Islands, where she encountered an angel who instructed her to go on a journey. The angel told her that when she came upon nine white deer, that would be her "resurrection place". She wandered through Waterford, Cork, and Kerry in search. At first she saw three white deer in Clondrohid and followed them to Ballymakeera where she saw six more. Finally, when Gobnait arrived in Ballyvourney, where there was a small rise overlooking the River Sullane, she saw nine white deer grazing all together just as the angel had promised, so she settled there and founded her monastic community.
Christine Valters Paintner writes: There is a deep and rich tradition among the Irish monks to seek out the place of one’s resurrection. This was done through the practice of peregrinatio, a setting sail without oar or rudder to let the currents of love carry you. (This happened in metaphoric ways as well.)
In Christian iconography, the stag/buck is a representative of aspiring to be closer to God (consider Psalm 42:1). It is a symbol of thirsting for purity (this plays into the color white, too) and union with the Holy Spirit. The stag is also a symbol of solitude and going within to connect with spiritual wisdom.
St Gobnait shows us to listen to our hearts to find our home and once there do all in your calling to love and protect it. (Jean Wise)