Today is the feast day of Irish Saint Gobnait. Her legend tells that she was born in County Clare in the fifth or sixth century, and went to study the monastic life on Inisheer in the Aran Islands. Here an angel appeared and told her that this was “not the place of her resurrection” and that she should look for a place where she would find nine white deer grazing. She travelled around Ireland and eventually found the deer at Ballyvourney in County Cork, where she founded a monastery, kept bees and cared for the sick, using the healing properties of honey.
St. Gobnait and the Place of Her Resurrection by Christine Valters Paintner,
“On the tiny limestone island
an angel buzzes to Gobnait
in a dream, disrupts her plans,
sends her in search of nine white deer.
She wanders for miles across
sea and land until at last
they appear and rather than
running toward them
she falls gently to wet ground,
sits in silence as light crawls across sky,
lets their long legs approach
and their soft, curious noses surround her.
Breathing slowly, she slides back
onto grass and clover and knows
nothing surpasses this moment,
a heaven of hooves and dew.
Is there a place for each of us,
where we no longer yearn to be elsewhere?
Where our work is to simply soften,
wait, and pay close attention?
She smiles as bees gather eagerly
around her too, wings humming softly
as they collect essence of wildflowers,
transmuting labor into gold.”