The great souls teach us, and show by example, how devotees must interact with one another and with the whole environment, in order to evoke the divine nature (Yoga-maya) to reveal herself as she is. Until we are deeply steeped in an attitude of humility, we need to respect the concept of the inferior (Maha-maya) nature as the response of Durga, Mother Parvati to our rebellious mentality, our desire to enjoy, control and exploit.
Braja-lila is the primordial revelation of pristine beauty, glory, and meaning. The material nature is the reflection of that divine realm; it has substance even though it is temporary. Mother nature is not ours to enjoy or renounce; we are to study under her to learn crucial lessons. She points to something beyond herself, to the reality of which she is a mere reflection.
Growing up, I spent as much time as I could on my grandparents' farm. As soon as I could walk, one of my duties was to herd the cows to the only large shade tree in the cows' favorite part of the pasture. It was an old American chestnut tree, the only one I am aware of having survived the American chestnut blight in the late 1800's. This tree is mentioned in books about the history of the American chestnut.
The gifts of nature have a sacramental aspect; they point to something beyond themselves. In this light, food is more than just sustenance to the body; water is more then to quench our thirst, and air is more then something to breathe, they are sacraments. Water is a metaphor for rasa, loving exchange; food is bhakti, nourishment for the soul, and breath is the metaphor for the most essential subsistence, the Holy Name, the very breath of life.
Our new life of spirituality blossoms inasmuch as our hearts soften in a humble service attitude. It is like springtime flowers emerging from the thawing earth after winter makes way for the appearance of spring.