On the Monday after the first budding of spring, the entire Temple was called to assembly in the Great Hall by old Madame Jinyu, the Abbess Over All Clans And Concerns. Not a single person was excused—indeed, two desperately ill monks were carried in on stretchers and hoisted upright against the back wall, next to the propped-up corpse of a senior nun who had died the previous Thursday without giving the mandatory two weeks’ notice.
Directly in front of old Jinyu’s podium sat the diligent monks of the Elephant's Footprint Clan, who together had mastered the arcane arts of database design and a hundred persistence libraries. The monks had arrayed themselves in perfect rows and columns atop low ceremonial look-up tables that had been joined together for the occasion.
Behind the Elephant’s Footprint sat the knowledgable monks of the Laughing Monkey Clan, who implemented the business logic of the Temple’s many customers. So frightfully intelligent was the behavior of their rule engines that their codebase was rumored to be possessed by the spirits of long-dead business analysts.
Behind the Laughing Monkey sat the prolific monks of the Spider Clan, who built the web interfaces and services of every Temple application. Because web technology stacks came and went so frequently, their novices were trained to instinctively forget everything that was no longer relevant, lest they go mad. Curiously, though, when asked how this Art of Forgetting worked, the monks invariably laughed and said that there was no such Art; for if there were, they would surely have remembered learning it.
Proud were these, the Three Great Clans of the Temple. So it was with great dismay that they learned of Jinyu’s plans for their future.
“In autumn, the abbot Ruh Cheen convinced us to taste the nectar of the Agile methodology,” said old Jinyu to her audience. “Through the winter we nibbled its fruit and found it sweet. Now spring has arrived, and we wish to plant the seeds of a great harvest.
“No longer will we haphazardly select monks from the Three Clans to work on tasks as they arise. Instead, each product will have a Tiny Clan of its own, whose members will not change.
“Some of you will belong to a single Tiny Clan; some to two or three. Each Tiny Clan will have its own rules, set its own standards, establish its own traditions. The monks of your Tiny Clans will be your new brethren. You will work with them, eat with them, do chores with them, and share a hall with them.
“Tonight I will post your new assignments. Tomorrow the Three Clans will be no more. Now, go: prepare yourselves.”
Thus did old Jinyu depart the Great Hall, to a chorus of worried murmuring. Even the dead senior nun seemed a trifle unhappier.
Said Zjing, “When the Spider learns her craft from the Monkey and the Elephant, what manner of webs shall we see in the trees?”
“Creative ones,” replied Banzen.
“And how shall we manage such ‘creativity’?” continued the nun. “How shall we review code? How shall we mentor? How shall we plan?”
“Differently,” said Banzen.
“You are infuriatingly calm!” scowled Zjing. “I thought that Banzen of all people would share my concerns.”
Banzen chuckled. “When Ruh Cheen was brought into the temple by Jinyu, you told your fellows that the abbess is no fool. And though you were lying, you spoke true. Jinyu sees that the new Way of the World is not the Temple’s Way. She has chosen to follow the World.”
“She is following it over the edge of cliff,” grumbled the nun.
“Indeed!” said Banzen with a smile. “Yet what is the Temple: a stone, or a bird?” The old master took Zjing’s arm in his own and started for the doors, nodding his head respectfully as they passed the dead senior nun. “I have lived through such times before. The initial plunge is always unsettling to the stomach, but we have yet to crash into the rocks below.”
“So, how long must I wait before I see the Temple sprout feathers?” asked Zjing.
“My dear young master,” said Banzen. “Did you not understand the terms of your own promotion? We are the feathers.”
Provided under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.