Thanks Christyl! You picked up on the essence of my essay, that it was being in nature (in a particularly pristine setting) that triggered the entire line of thought. I have a lifelong love of the outdoors, I crave it whenever I’m inside for a stretch of a few hours. I have never associated it with religion or spirituality, having been raised secular thankfully.
I don’t think we need to assign any “higher” aspirations or “spiritual” sense to this. We are products of nature & evolution, and that billion-year process has taught us that we are better off if we are in tune and in balance with our natural environment.
If anything, lower-intellect animals and perhaps plants (can’t speak to that with authority) know this better than humans — their connection to nature is often more keen than ours. Which is evident in how humans have harnessed the unique skills of other species all along — to fertilize our crops, to warn us of carbon monoxide in deep mines, to act as an early warning system for earthquakes and tsunamis, etc.
You’re right, we need to regain our connection to nature — but perhaps not by smoking hallucinogenic mushrooms or by making up and propagating Creationist fairy tales.