Bernice “Bunny” Traun expresses her love of God through prose and poetry
Bernice Traun is known in the Durand community as Bunny, a nickname given to her when she was a very young child by her sister. The nickname stuck ever since. She is also well known for her writing and storytelling.
Writing is not listed as a spiritual gift. Nonetheless, one can argue it is a gift given by God to a person and shapes a person’s ability to put thoughts into words. Perhaps the gift manifests itself in the choice of words, tense or emphasis that connects emotions and feelings of the writer to the reader. Nowhere is writing more beautifully expressed than when prose and poetry reflect the love God has for a person and God’s creation.
Now 90 years old, Bunny says she was always writing, even as a youngster. “Even when I was a kid, I would make up stories in my mind. And so, I think it’s just in me. Often stories come to me in a dream, in the middle of the night. The stories just come to me—I can’t understand it—I can’t explain it—it’s in me.”
Even when I was a kid, I would make up stories in my mind.” -Bunny
“Alone” is a poem Bunny wrote four years ago. The poem speaks to her experiencing the passage of time and her journey with God at her side. “Alone” is only one of many writings authored by Bunny, which she keeps in a large plastic container. Some writings have been published locally while others sit in the container as handwritten or typed manuscripts. There are children’s stories as well as thought provoking poems for the mature mind. Many have a reference to God as in the following excerpt:
“Which Matters Lord?
I’m not a very good housekeeper
I let the dirt pile up.
Sometimes a guest will just pop in
And I think ‘What have I done?’
Don’t judge me too harshly oh
I love my fellowman
I love You Lord and things on earth
It’s housework I just can’t stand.”
Bunny says she has had a good life. “Life was good because my family environment was stable. God and church were the center of our life. My father would never miss Mass even those times when he would have to get up extra early to shovel out our long driveway by hand after a snowstorm. Often, I would see my mother go into the bedroom to silently pray. All of us children knew that our mother and father were always there for us no matter what. We could trust them in that. This was my foundation for life.”
“A Father Remembers His Wedding Day” is a story that appeared in the Durand newspaper The Courier Wedge (June 18, 2020, pg. 2). Bunny wrote this story as was told to her by her father, Fred Brunner in 1975. Bunny said her father was a natural storyteller. One can’t help but think Bunny inherited her talent from him. Bunny said she did think about a career in journalism if she went to college. But she added, “Those days people did not go to college a lot anyway—farmers didn’t. But dad said he would pay for two years if I wanted to go. I would have gone to Winona, but I had a boyfriend. I didn’t want to leave home. It was God’s plan for me.”
Bernice “Bunny” Traun has a spiritual gift. Writing is Bunny’s tool to exercise that gift: a gift of sharing the human experience in God with others.
Story and photography by Robert Rogers
Published in the November 2021 Issue of Catholic Life Magazine
I am ‘alone.’
87 years old and I have never been ‘alone.’
For 20 years I had a mother, father, sisters, brother, dogs and cats.
A house full.
I started work and lived with girlfriends.
My life was full.
I married – husband, children, hired man that lived with us.
Farming – What a Life!
Never a dull moment – work, fun and play.
My life was full.
The years slid by – I was never alone.
Married 65 years. Life full of love, sometimes sadness.
My siblings died – only one left. Children left – married, have their own lives, they come and leave.
65 years – husband died.
Now I am ‘alone.’
Moved to town – bought a condo.
Among people – I love people.
Play some cards – go out to eat, go to church.
Friends stop by, they go home.
Now I am ‘alone.’
I sit in my chair.
I start to pray
God’s love fills my heart.
I feel His presence.
He is near.
I believe in Him
Trust in Him
I hear Him say
“Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
I AM NOT ALONE
With God’s love I will never be ‘alone.’
-Bernice B Traun, Durand, WI