How dare this young monk named Gottschalk try to break his vows to be a monk? And almost worse, how could the Synod of Mainz vote to allow him to do it? Rabanus Maurus clenched his fists as he entered his cloister. He would not allow this to happen—not while he was head of the monastery at Fulda. A vow is a vow forever. That’s what Rabanus believed.
Rabanus appealed to the emperor, Louis the Pious. Another council was called. And this time the council decided that Gottschalk must still live as a monk.
Gottschalk shook his head when he heard the news. He could not hide his disappointment. He would not be leaving the monastery after all.
But there was more. Now everyone at Fulda knew he did not want to be a monk. Gottschalk did not want to be part of their company. And Gottschalk had tried to cross their abbot, Rabanus Maurus. It would be better for him to go to another Benedictine monastery. There was one in France, the monastery of Orbais. Rabanus sent Gottschalk there. The abbot smiled within at the thought of this troublesome monk moving three hundred miles away.
For Gottschalk, the journey to France was long and lonely, but he was grateful to see the world outside the monastery on the way. Another monk was sent to walk alongside him to France, but this monk was of little comfort to Gottschalk. Gottschalk knew the other monk was supposed to help keep him safe from robbers. Traveling was a dangerous thing to do in the 800s. But Gottschalk was not worried about robbers. Benedictine monks were poor and had little to be robbed of. Nor did Gottschalk have any intention of running away himself. God had given him a logical mind and an honest heart. He knew he had no choice anymore. He must be a monk for the rest of his life.
He stared at the trees, meadows, and fields that stretched out before them, as well as the castles and towns they passed by. He heard the gurgling brooks alongside the road and smelled the fresh scent of leaves and grass. But he did not dwell on these pleasant things. He thought about his future. He thought about his past.
He had copied some of Augustine’s works at Fulda in neat, Latin script. But he did more than copy the words. He read them with understanding and appreciation. Augustine was a church father worth studying more. That’s what Gottschalk would do at Orbais. He would study the works of Augustine. He would compare what Augustine taught to what the Scriptures teach. If he could not live his life freely out in the world, he could try to do something worthwhile in the monastery.
The plan made each step of the journey easier for Gottschalk to take.
But Gottschalk could not have known what journey that plan would take him on. Nor could the abbot of Fulda know this journey would cause them to meet once more.