When we started Pensive in January 2020, we set out to create a journal that would uplift powerful global voices in spirituality and the arts. We imagined a publication that would deepen the inward life while expressing a wide range of religious, spiritual, and humanist experiences and perspectives. We hoped Pensive would embody our shared vision of a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world while advancing meaningful dialogue across differences. Our overarching goal was to foster community through reflection, art, and humanity.
Over the course of assembling this journal, we have realized the power of the arts as advocacy and the arts as a foundation for community. When our Editorial Board of students and staff at Northeastern University transitioned to remote work in March due to COVID-19, we were lost as to how Pensive would come to fruition, yet we carried on, meeting each week, reading thousands of submissions, and growing closer than we ever imagined possible in our new virtual environments. From our remote corners of the world, we bring you this double-issue anthology of poetry, prose, and visual art from an extraordinary group of established and emerging artists. We hope you will receive these works as we have – as gift, as challenge, as invitation – and share them widely within your own circles.
Pensive arises in the context of crisis. The year 2020 has brought devastation in the form of global pandemic. COVID-19 has destroyed human lives and communities and further revealed the inhumanity and inequity of capitalism as we currently practice it. Natural disasters and extreme weather events have cast the climate crisis in stark relief once more. Rebuilding a better world will take a collective effort of compassion and love.
Racist violence in the United States has had a resounding effect across the globe and forced us to reckon with the weight of history and the persistence of white supremacy in its many guises. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade and so many other Black people – and the lack of official accountability- have demonstrated the complacency and inertia of those in power – and have inspired many of us to raise our voices in the streets, in our communities, and in the arts.
To be pensive is to be actively engaged in deep thought. That, reader, is what we invite you to do as you read our journal. We invite you to be critical of the world around you. We invite you to question history, authority, and power. We invite you to challenge structural oppression in all its forms. We invite you to discover here the creative and spiritual wellsprings that will sustain you for the long struggle ahead.
This anthology attempts, through literature and visual art, to share some of the wisdom, insight, spirituality, humor, and love that spring from moments of pensiveness and creative contemplation. We are honored by the vulnerability, honesty, care, and craft that each of our contributors have brought to this journal, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to invite you to experience it with us now. Come, let us, together, be pensive.
– The Pensive Board