‘…Washed flat and almost clean by the ebb of the tide, the sand is bare except for a single set of footprints. And – why are we not surprised? – there he is again, ahead of us, waiting. Although it is barely dawn, there is light enough to see his face, recognise his smile. The shadows have gone, for this in-between time, anyway. When he speaks, we know his voice although we cannot place his accent. Five words; a question: “What do you really want?”‘ Some people like to be taken on mystery tours; others prefer to have a clear idea of where they are going, and why, and how long it will take, and where they will stop for lunch. This book is, in some ways, a bit of a mystery tour, inspired in part by (although in no way claiming parity with) classic Christian dream texts such as Pilgrim’s Progress, Piers Plowman and The Great Divorce, and also by the whole rich tradition of storytelling as a way of exploring aspects of faith and truth. It begins in a city, evoking the stress and demands endemic to life in today’s busy, predominantly urban culture. It also ends in the same city, but this city now reverberates with a little of the imagery of the city of God, the new Jerusalem, which scripture promises us is our final home. In between, the narrative takes us to explore a curious yet safe place, a mysterious house of many rooms where questions can be asked, experiences shared and the search for healing begun. Using story, reflection on Bible passages and quotations for further thought from a range of Christian writers, the trajectory of the book is from emptiness and despair to certain hope, from confusion through penitence to the great joy of forgiving and receiving forgiveness. A constant theme is the interplay between God’s unmerited grace and mercy and our human failings; at the heart of the story is the meaning of love – on the one hand, our hunger for it and our often weary search to find and secure it, and on the other hand, God’s breathtaking love for us, his children, expressed supremely in the birth, life, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. The good news that we have been given to share is that the world’s hunger for love can be met only in God’s neverending embrace. Before that hunger can be understood, however, one question must be pondered and eventually answered: what do we really want? What do you really want? It is time to begin.