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Canyon Tales

History And Folklore Of Sabino Canyon
10 a.m., Saturday, June 25
Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road
749-1900

Arizona is a land of mountains, desert and heat--few people would dispute that claim. However, if someone were to say islands are also included, there would probably be more than one or two folks who would beg to differ. However, there are islands in Arizona--sky islands.

These islands are areas in the desert that differ ecologically from their drier, harsher surroundings. The big difference from a sky island and the stereotypical "tropical island" is that a sky island is surrounded by land rather than sea. Like on islands surrounded by water, whatever lives on sky islands is pretty much marooned and cannot leave its habitat.

Sabino Canyon is such a place. It has a creek that runs through it, and the area can support life forms that differ greatly from the land below. This includes various plants, animals and, in earlier times, people.

This lecture, to be presented by historian Jim Turner, will explain the rich history of the place, including the controversy over the name of the canyon, tracking Apaches through the canyon and 1880s resort hotel plans, among other things.

One interesting tidbit about the canyon is the legend of there being a large amount of gold somewhere in the area. The story goes that there was a Native American who knew where this large cache of gold was, but one day, there was an earthquake, and it scared him so badly that he never revealed the location of the gold.

Turner thinks the best reason to come and hear the lecture is that since many people who live in Arizona didn't grow up here, knowing the history of the place can make them feel more at home. --S.B.


Tibetan Lessons

Teaching by Garchen Rinpoche
9 a.m. yo Noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26
St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. Third St.
465-1882, www.drikungkagyutucson.org

When many people think about the teachers they've had, they often forget about the good and remember only the negative things: after-school detention, bad grades and endless amounts of homework. However, that is not the case with students of Garchen Rinpoche--they look forward to his arrival with enthusiasm and excitement. Rinpoche, a lama of Tibetan Buddhism, will be coming to Tucson this weekend to teach his devoted followers about the Ganges Mahamudra Instructions.

The Ganges Mahamudra Instructions provide, according to believers, a path to enlightenment and helping others, which originated around the 11th century in Northern India. Realized teachers, which are called lamas, passed the teaching down from one to the other, creating an oral or "heart to heart" lineage.

One thing that distinguishes Tibetan Buddhism from other Buddhist sects is that since Tibet is very isolated from the rest of the world, the teaching there has not been influenced by outsiders. It is ingrained into the lifestyle of the people who live there, rather than being kept as a separate facet of life, like religion often is in the Western world.

However, in 1959, that idyllic peace was brutally disrupted by a Chinese invasion resulting in the deaths of 1 million Tibetans. During this time, Rinpoche was captured and put into prison by the Chinese government because he was a lama. He was imprisoned until 1979.

People attending Rinpoche's teaching can expect a message of selfless love that some have found to be life-changing.

"You learn to be a more loving person to all around you, and become more able to help others," Matthew Vasquez said. Vasquez is a student of Tibetan Buddhism.

Suggested donation is $75 for the weekend. --S.B.


One Big Fiesta

8th Annual El Dia de San Juan Fiesta
5 to 10 p.m., Friday, June 24
Entrance at west end of Congress Street, at the Santa Cruz River
791-0925

June 24 is traditionally the celebration day for St. John the Baptist, an event that has been celebrated off and on for more than a century in the Old Pueblo, according to event chairwoman Lillian Lopez-Grant.

The newest incarnation takes place at the Santa Cruz River, at the west endpoint of Congress Street. Those who come can enjoy old-fashioned charros and escaramusas in full regalia, who perform demonstrations of horsemanship, including side-saddle and other types of riding.

The festival, which attracted more than 4,000 people last year, will feature nonstop entertainment and food. While it originally was a religious festival, it has since changed to a more wide-ranging show.

The festival will feature dancers, mariachi music and children's games. People can dance the end of the night away with Cumbia band Hollywood Night.

A group of citizens chose to resurrect the celebration as a "cultural festival, as it has been a part of Tucson for so long," Lopez-Grant said.

The traditional procession with a statue of St. John is set for 6:30 p.m. St. John is the patron saint of water.

June 24 is considered the start of the monsoon season, and as legend has it, was the day in 1540 that Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez Coronado prayed to God for rain. A prayer for rain will also happen.

"The whole community is invited, and we invite you to share both the customs and culture," Lopez-Grant said.

As it is a family event, alcohol is not allowed at the fiesta. --M.W.


Free Flicks and Food

13th Annual Religion in Film Series
7-10 p.m., every other Friday through Aug. 19
Murphey Gallery, St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave.
299-6421

Find out what the bleep do we know, among other things, during the 13th Annual Religion in Film Series.

The free series, put on by the St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church, will be presenting five recent films every other Friday night at 7 p.m. in the church's Murphey Gallery. The organizers will also offer open discussions after each film.

The series kicks off this Friday night with the comedy-drama The Barbarian Invasions, the 2003 R-rated sequel to 1986's The Decline of the American Empire. The Barbarian Invasions, which tackles capitalism, received an 82 percent positive rating from movie Web site www.rottentomatoes.com, which produces ratings through incorporating multiple critics' views.

Showing on July 8 is the recent flick Spanglish, about a house-sitter who puts herself in the middle of an infidelity issue between her two employers. This film is rated PG-13.

On July 22 is the tearjerker I Am David, about a boy who seeks desperate freedom from a 1950s Bulgarian prison camp, setting off on an arduous journey. The 2003 film, directed by Paul Feig (best known as the co-creator of the cult television series Freaks and Geeks) is rated PG.

The church will be showing 2003's Luther on Aug. 5, a story about a man who forever altered the Christian faith. This drama-biography is about the life of Martin Luther, the creator of the Protestant faith in the 16th-century.

On Aug. 19, the series concludes with What the Bleep Do We Know?

Admission to the series is free, and snacks are offered to the public for free as well. --M.W.

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