Some day there comes the situation when we decide – do we have to?
Big decisions can be planned: We stand at a road junction and there are two ways: one rightwards and one leftwards. We can sway to and fro, we can duck to make the decision and kick it down the road for a time, but some day we mostly make up our mind, for the one way or the other one.
Then there are the unplanned decisions: We are located in a situation out of which we make up our mind for a certain way.
So it is for Balin in the “Hobbit”:
There is one who I could follow.
There is one I could call king.
So he tells about the battle of Moria, in which the dwarf prince Thorin in combat against the white ork Azog took an oaken branch and fought back with it as a shield, injured Azog badly and caused so the end of the battle. The following way doesn’t lead into triumph, but into exile – nevertheless Balin follows Thorin and doesn’t depart from his loyalty. With that Balin took a decision for life, like a lot of people did it during the ancient times or not so long ago in the Asian martial arts, too: To follow for a lifetime – or at least for a long time – the way of a certain master, be it a master of the martial arts or a master of the religious or philosophical ways. That means at first to get oneself thoroughly into a certain way resp. its interpretation through the master. At first there is the undergoing of a certain tradition in a certain manifestation – later, when you understood a lot of the tradition, are a good bit advanced on the way to their own master, the own interpretation. In doing so the point is not to replicate the master, but it is the point to find the own master in oneself, to find the own way of living the tradition in which line one is standing. The target of this kind of education resp. discipleship is not to pass on dead signs and rituals or cinder, but living tradition, blaze that is in turn able to inflame other fires.
This begs even for us the question:
Who do we consider as the one who is it worth that we follow him?
Whose way are we following?
And what of that way is for us the precious blaze that we want to spark off, feed, pass on?