Religion is a feeling, an aspiration, an attitude, a spiritual temper; and in the attempt to define it exactly in creed or doctrine, its essence exhales and escapes. - Henry Wood (Businessman turned New Thought author.)
It was a long road back to "religion" for me. I used scare quotes there because the word religion is notoriously hard to define.
I was raised in particular strand of conservative, fundamentalist Christianity. Growing up I would have thought of that as religion and all the other flavors of Christianity perhaps as people "walking in all the light they see," as Mom used to put it, or maybe even as counterfeit religions in the case Judaism, Hinduism and so on.
In a story I've told more than once in my blogging, my faith was shattered by the divorce of my parents and then took a final blow when my marriage to my high school sweetheart collapsed. It was then, in all my pain and mental distress, that I really noticed the intellectual difficulties my belief system attempted to gloss over. I moved to Deism, then to Atheism, then to Agnosticism, then back to Atheism, then ... well, you get the idea.
Through it all there was this deep, heartfelt sense inside me that life was something more than atoms swirling around aimlessly through space, purposelessly; that life might have something that for lack of a better word I could call purpose.
I guess that is the whole of my faith, the essence of my religion. So I have finally decided to allow my heart a place in my thinking. I may be mistaken, I admit. But then, I'm certain there are many things I'm probably mistaken about. That's what we humans do, after all, make mistakes while navigating our way through life.