If we are the universe embodied and if we are here to experience the universe, it makes sense that there would be rewards built in to connecting with the natural world. As we serve the cosmos, we receive happiness, serenity, and maybe some healing as a side effect.
I see a lot of headlines like “How to harness nature’s healing power”, “How forests heal people”, and “How to use nature to improve your health”. Their version of nature is lush, green, and peaceful. There’s no red in tooth and claw; there’s no predator, prey, and parasite. Theirs is a tamed nature that exists as a tool for our benefit.
To me, respect for nature means understanding that it isn’t here to serve us. It can be the soothing green shade with bird song, but it can also be the disease carrying deer tick picked up in that same idyllic place. It exists for itself alone. We are lucky that walking through the natural cathedral of old trees or observing a wild flower conveys spiritual, mental, and physical benefits, but framing nature in terms of how we can use it maintains the same paradigm that led to animal extinctions, rain forest clear cutting, and vortexes of plastic waste in our oceans.
Get out into the green when and how you can, for the personal benefits or as an act of worship, but don’t mistake your reasons for nature’s purpose. And wear insect repellent as needed.