The Lemon Tree, Citrus x Meyeri Yu


Rev. Dr. Karen Berry Powell



I am pull. We want a lemon tree.

I say, “Let’s buy a lemon tree. We’ll put it in a ceramic pot and keep it by the window. Exciting!”

You rain on me. You respond, “I’m not sure. I don’t know anything about growing lemon trees. Besides, I must move the family to this other state first.”

I am quiet, but there is something about this tree. Something that speaks deeply to you. But you ignore it. You have a black belt in denial.

When we get to that state, you see many houses with blooming lemon trees in the yards. You pull the van over to go look, feel, and smell.  Sovereign sweetness – the queen of fragrances, a pure, tolerant, caring perfume. You show your three children.

Getting the family settled is all about new beginnings – new schools for them, new volunteer opportunities for you, new friends for everyone. Your husband hasn’t arrived yet. He is tying up loose ends with the business and says he will come soon.

Later in the season, you stand in awe at all the citrus trees in fruit. One house has a grapefruit tree, Citrus Paradisi, a Meyer lemon, Citrus Meyeri, and an avocado tree, Persea americana, all in its front lawn! You are telling me, “This surely is heaven.”

I pull you to go to a plant nursery. “Come on! Let’s get a tree. Which one do you want to get? The grapefruit? The avocado?”

You say, “I better not. I don’t know how to raise an avocado tree. All the pits I cultivated have died in their sprouting jars. I was raised in the desert. Hired help mowed our lawn. We had two mesquite trees and some Euonymus bushes. I don’t know anything about gardening or trees or flowers.”

I notice a strange pain unfolding between your lower ribs in the solar plexus. This is our energetic connection to your will to love and experience life. Now, your thoughts of fear and doubt make it feel like the solar plexus is folding in on itself.  A black hole in the center of your being. This pain spreads up into your heart.

“Okay, forget avocado, let’s get a lemon tree,” I suggest, trying to keep things light. I pull you.

“I don’t have time to learn how right now, I want to focus on the kids. I want to parent them right. Anyway, we are just renting this house. So not now; later,” you say firmly.

Your mind is in control, but you are cut off from awareness of your solar plexus. I feel it so taut that it would snap, slice a finger, and make it bleed if it were a violin string, but you don’t notice.  You don’t notice because since childhood you have learned to deny your existence, deny what is true for you, second-guess, shame, and doubt yourself. Whatever the cause of this, you have learned to live with a closed down solar plexus: an energy vacuum.

During cycles of sick thinking such as shame, blame, fear, and doubt, the solar plexus collapses and with this come sentiments of abandonment, isolation, even eminent death, which are illusions.  Sick thoughts are illusions because they evaporate when replaced with positive, loving focus such as affirmations of one’s worthiness in the present moment, or self-supportive actions.  The collapse of this chakra, or energy center, is tangible. It is felt in the body as contraction, tightness, or pain in the center of the body. The solar plexus energy center hovers over the pit of the stomach and lower rib cage where there is a vast collection of nerves and nerve centers. The heart also reaches into this area. Self-supportive actions to re-open a closed solar plexus include and are not limited to eating healthily, gardening, spending time with loved ones, and being outside in nature and sunshine.

“Okayyyy.” I sigh, sinking in for a long nap. Now come years of swim and surfing lessons, ice-skating lessons, yo-yo competitions, roller coaster rides, soccer games, play performances, report cards, birthday parties, homemade ice cream, and magic shows.

We are moving again, from the rental into a purchase. Just across town this time, not across the country. The house we buy has a surprise tucked in the greenery in the back yard.

When the fruit bursts out in July, and you discover we have lemons, you burst into tears of joy and gratitude.

I’m thinking, “That was easy. One lemon tree and a house for $250,000. My job’s done.” I have a good sense of humor and I love to laugh. I am about 6 years old, and I am very wise, although sometimes I am overly emotional.

You admire the bright little yellow beauties on that unassuming tree. From it you learn two things. One: Meyer lemons are the extraordinarily delicious result of combining sour lemons and sweet oranges.  Two: A traditional lemon meringue pie becomes unforgettable when made with Meyer lemons and served warm.

You harvest the lemons, bake our organic pie, and serve it fresh out of the oven to the family. You are overcoming that voice of doubt and perfectionism that is pinching in on the s p. “Can one serve a lemon meringue pie warm? It’s never been done, that I know of. It’s supposed to be served chilled or room temperature.”

But you are excited, the kids and I are too, so we can’t wait for it to cool down. Our bites of freshly-baked-pie enter our mouths brightly like sunshine and birdsong. The crust is a perfect nest of buttery, salty, sweetness.

But just as we are getting settled into this new home and life, you are telling us we must move again. A famous actor drove by, liked our home, and made an offer on it. It wasn’t even on the market, but since our business is not doing well, this seems like a good financial decision that will buy us some security. We pack up.

There are no citrus x Meyeri at the new place.

You are distracted, though, because an immune disease has struck one of the children, and then the financial crisis of 2008 hits the family as hard as any American family featured in the documentary. This is followed by divorce. Each is an enormous trauma that every member of the family faces in their own way, going through the intense heat and high-pressure mineral friction to become the diamonds that they are now.

Several years of peace and plenty follow – a marriage, a college graduation, a post doc, ex-hubby publishing a well-received book, you are voted teacher-of-the-year. Blessings and gratitude abound.

But you are live diamonds, not crystalized static things. And, since you are alive, friction continues to add facets and polish.  So, when you lose your job, catalyzing a lengthy, painful collapse in the solar plexus, and it is hard to move, hard to breathe, you gratefully accept an invitation to spend time with a dear friend up north. The day starts with a visit to a plant nursery. I pull you. I take you on a stroll.

I stroll you through the Lantana, Lantana camara, and the Plum trees, Prunus domestica, the Voodoo Fuchsia, Eufuchsia, and the Peonies, Peonia lactiflora. I pull you over to the 2-foot-tall Meyer lemon trees.

And though you almost say, “not ye—” because life is in flux, you are redirected by a powerful, kind Voice, who is also my friend.

This Voice calls you inwardly by name and says, “If not now, when, Dear One? Can you now understand that there will always be something, something you might consider imperfect going on? Right now, this very minute, no matter what, this is the time to love and listen to yourself. It is the only moment we have.”

Right there by the lemon trees in the back corner of a plant nursery, you realize this is a revelation.

You pick up your baby tree and holding it to your heart, float over to the check-out counter. Warmth spreads through your solar plexus relaxing you and allowing your breathing to deepen. Pain leaves as joy and trust seep in, take over.  I can hear you saying to yourself, “Yes. Now is the time. I love me. The lessons keep coming, but I love me, and I love this life with all my heart! We are getting our lemon tree today!”

We are so happy. I feel complete. Whole in you. Six-year-old you, sixty-year-old you, and my friend, the Revelation Giver. My job is done, and we are more One than ever before.

About the author:

Dr. Karen Berry Powell is an interdisciplinary Minister and Yoga teacher with a Doctorate in Spiritual Science. She has appeared in “The El Paso Times”, “The New Day Herald”, “Huffington Post”, “Indianapolis Star”, “VICE Creators Project”, and “The Lyric Magazine.” Most recently, she wrote and illustrated a spiritual adventure story set in ancient China about a family who are herbalists. One day, an unexpected animal comes into their lives and changes them forever! For more, click here. The story is written in English and Spanish and painted in watercolors.

Dr. Karen Berry Powell says, “The Lemon Tree is a personal narrative about the journey to loving myself no matter what and tells the story of overcoming self-denial to finally buy myself a small tree that I had wanted for many years. I hope it inspires you.”

To schedule yoga with Rev. Dr. Powell or get your copy of The Mists of Guilin, an allegory about a family of herbalists, please go to

Posted by Shweta Dixit