Last weekend I attended a Moving toward Wholeness Conference at the St. Francis Springs Retreat Center near Greensboro, NC. Over four presentations Michael Conforti, PhD and Jungian Analyst engaged us with stories and urged us to “get the facts” about the images in dreams. He spoke of “The Art of Spiritual Navigation: Relating to the Reality of Psyche in an Authentic Spiritual Life.”
My first impression? This guy … he’s Italian! A sense of familiarity warmed me as Dr. Conforti’s Brooklyn dialect and phrases of Italian evoked thoughts of my father-in-law (Frances Vitetta born in Mamaroneck, NY). I tried to make room for this new combination…
Beloved Jungian concepts like archetypes, complexes and the Numinous being described by a “little Italian boy from Brooklyn”… Well, it was a new experience for me. Who knew? I married into the Vitetta family 26 years ago.
My husband, a collaborative family lawyer, says: “Dream work makes my brain hurt.” My father-in-law, a successful architect and business leader says: “If it’s not competitive, what good is it?” At the same time, you won’t find two men who care more about their families.
Throughout the weekend I tried to put my finger on it… What is the “archetype of the little Italian boy”? What is this palpable consistency shared by my father-in-law, my husband and this Jungian Analyst?
I am about 99% dreamer and a little short on the left-brain, Type-A skills I have come to know and love in the Vitetta family. I have learned so much and (as Dr. Conforti might say in his dialect): And I thank God for it everyday. And I learned so much over the weekend.
Dr. Conforti told stories reminding us of the regularity and consistency in human experience; that there are patterns of development and patterns in Nature we ought recognize, value and honor. Science has revealed that patterns of human experience (like birth/beginnings, familial roles, developmental stages, work and death) reflect patterns in Nature.
He demonstrated why we should discern and honor the inherent, objective qualities of the images in dreams as distinct from our personal experience and emotions around the images. Doing so in dream work allows us to reach a depth where true Nature and connection to the Divine may be experienced. Honoring such experience leads us toward wholeness and Destiny.
Dr. Conforti spoke of his community of scientific and religious colleagues, The Assisi Institute he founded, and shared more than stories for sure. But the presence of the storytelling tradition was important in showing me what Frank, Michael and Guy have in common.
The stories expressed love of family and love of the Italian traditions. They made clear his passion for creating, with integrity, humility, focus, hard work, and most importantly, with devotion to caring for others. This is how a “little Italian boy” transforms civic structures through Architecture, changes a corner of the legal system, or articulates an understanding of how dream images can lead us to the Divine. Who knew? Maybe Somebody did.